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3 possible hate crimes in 1 week: What needs to be done to move forward?

Stephanie Drenka, Co-Founder of the Dallas Asian American Historical Society, said there needs to be systemic change and stopping the idea of "us versus them."

DALLAS — When the shooting happened last Wednesday at Hair World Salon in Koreatown, Dallas, many people wondered if it was motivated by hate.

"My first instinct was 'were they targeted because they were in Koreatown,'" said Stephanie Drenka, Co-Founder of the Dallas Asian American Historical Society.

That afternoon, three Korean women were shot and injured in the salon. Within a week, police arrested Jeremy Smith for the shooting and charged him with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

RELATED: New charges added for Dallas Koreatown salon shooting suspect

On the day of the shooting and the day following, police said there was no indication of the incident being a hate crime. But by Friday, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia announced it may be motivated by hate.

To Drenka, the change in tone of the investigation is a relief in the sense that people are understanding this was a crime possibly targeted at people of Asian descent. She said it needs to be investigated and prosecuted through the proper channels.

The Koreatown shooting in Dallas is one of three possible hate crimes being investigated across the country in the span of one week. 

RELATED: As police investigate hate crime, shooting victim focuses on making Dallas Koreatown safer

On Saturday in Buffalo, New York, there was a mass shooting at a supermarket where 10 people were killed and three others wounded. Police say the suspect, Payton Gendron, was targeting the Black community. 

On Sunday in Laguna Woods, California, a mass shooting occurred at a Taiwanese Presbyterian Church during services. One person was killed and five others were shot. Law enforcement said the suspect, David Chou, was motivated by political hate. A federal hate crime investigation into the incident was ongoing. 

Drenka said, "It's a lot in a week. It's a lot over the past several years. But what we know as historians and as people of color is that it's not new, and that hate crimes against people of color have been happening in this country since the country was founded." She said this is an echo of history repeating itself.

RELATED: Who are the victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo?

Hate crimes happen when people see certain communities as less than or as a threat, according to Drenka. She said, "We have to find ways to heal and rehumanize and connect with people and build relationships." She said it's important that people don't get lost in the narrative of "us versus them."

The immediate conversations after a shooting are to increase policing and reporting of crimes, but Drenka calls that a "bandage fix." It's only temporary.

To address the root of racism, "We have to look at the systemic issues if we're going to find a systemic solution," said Drenka.

She said change will happen if people build relationships between communities of color, truly understand each other's rich histories, and see what different cultures are contributing to their neighborhoods and cities. Drenka said, "Bias and racism don't belong here."

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