By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new study based on police department statistics nationally, shows a nearly 150 percent increase in anti-Asian crimes in major U.S. cities last year.

The study was done by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

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CBS4 reached out to the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Miami-Dade Police Department. Neither says they have dealt with reports of targeted crimes against Asians.

Many people who live and work here in South Florida, though, say there is still cause for concern.

Lindee Usamanont is the owner of Chopstick House in Cutler Bay. She says, in the last year, she has witnessed a disturbing trend.

“The pandemic until now, the name-calling, telling me I need to go back to my country, or that our people are the ones that are bringing the disease,” she says.

Usamanont, who is Thai, says some customers have been openly hateful, using Asian slurs in front of her and her staff.

“It’s hard enough to deal with the pandemic,” she says. “It’s hard enough to try to stay open.”

It appears to be a national trend. A group called “Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hate” reports 3,800 instances of discrimination against Asians in the past year.

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In Atlanta Tuesday, a man is accused of shooting and killing eight people, mostly women of Asian descent. It has not been determined that crimes are racially motivated. However, some say it’s still a concern.

“Fortunately, for us, so far, we have not had much of the incidents in the South Florida area,” says Winnie Tang, Vice President of the Asian American Federation of Florida. “But last night, when I turned on the TV and my email, suddenly see the three Asian massage parlors have been attacked with a shooting.“

Tang says they are working on partnering with law enforcement, and they are getting the word out to local communities to be vigilant.

“Now is not the time to sit at home and be quiet, like nothing happened,” she says. “If you see something, say something. Tell a friend or call the law enforcement.”

According to CBS, hate incidents, which are defined by the Department of Justice as “acts of prejudice that are not crimes”, are also on the rise.

“We don’t deserve that, and our culture is just non-confrontational,” says Usamanont. She says she wanted to speak up because many do not out of fear.

“Educate your children, so when you go out there, you know, they don’t think less of anyone,” she says.

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“If you’re White, you’re Black, you’re Hispanic, you’re Asian— we are all human beings. You know, respect one another.”

Karli Barnett