DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Vigils and rallies were held all across America, including right here in South Florida, to honor the victims of the Atlanta shootings.

While the local Asian American and Pacific Islander community may be small, it’s strong.

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“It’s been really hard the last year. There’s a new phobia that has emerged with the start of the pandemic,” said Commissioner Hallandale Beach Sabrina Javellana.

More than 3,800 racial incidents have been reported since the start of the pandemic. AAPIs in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties have felt the anti-Asian sentiment.

“I’ve been here 47 years. And for the past year, I’ve never felt more foreign,” expressed Davie resident Jay Kim.

And now with eight people killed in the deadliest mass shootings since 2019, AAPIs are in pain.

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“Every one of the victims are someone’s mother, someone’s daughter, someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s grandparents,” said Joshua Ho, a Davie Resident. “We have to get together. We have to be inclusive. We have to all be Americans.”

Elected officials as well as leaders of Black and Latino communities gathered to show their support.

“There is strength in our unity,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

And while culturally AAPIs don’t report crimes, some say it’s time to speak up.

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“We were always kind of taught to keep your head down, do your work and don’t make a lot of trouble. And that’s a problem. In the United States, we’re not going to be able to fight injustice unless we start speaking out a little bit more,” said Kim.

Frances Wang