CNN Reporter Hit With Anti-Asian Heckle Right Before Her Live Shot

Amara Walker says a passerby shouted “Virus!” at her Wednesday night as she prepared to go on air

Amara Walker, a Korean-American correspondent for CNN, said a passerby hurled a racist insult at her right before she went live on “CNN Tonight” Wednesday to discuss the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

“I would say about 10 minutes ago, someone driving by just shouted, ‘Virus,’ in our direction,” Walker told anchor Don Lemon, using the interaction as an example of racial harassment Asian Americans face. She was reporting from Atlanta, where a Tuesday shooting spree at three Asian massage parlors left eight dead, including six Asian women. Walker spoke to Asian community members about their experiences for the segment.

Walker has been covering the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans for the network in recent weeks, producing packages on attacks while using her platform to tell her own story.

In October, the journalist described on-air three back-to-back racist encounters she had at an airport. The pinned tweet at the top of her Twitter profile also dates back to October. It read, “I hate that I have to say this. But I belong. We Asian Americans belong. I was born & raised in the U.S. I am as American as apple pie & I am as American as Korean barbecue. I am American. Please don’t question me about that fact. Ever.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, nearly 3,800 incidents of violence, discrimination or other forms of harassment were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center that tracks hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. There were a total of 1,691 incidents reported in California, representing nearly 45% of all reported incidents. Of those who reported incidents, 68% identified as women.