ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Asian American and Pacific Islander state legislators and community leaders expressed outrage and heartbreak in response to the mass spa shootings that killed eight people, including six Asian American women.
“I’m heartbroken and angry at the mass shooting that occurred in Metro Atlanta,” said State Representative Sam Park (D-Dist. 101). “We’ve experienced a surge in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans driven by racist and political rhetoric and scapegoating.”READ MORE: Sarasota Man Arrested And Facing Charges Of Sexual Battery On A Victim Under 12
State Senator Sheik Rahman (D-Dist. 5) and others say the rhetoric was provoked by Former President Donald Trump. “Mr. Ex-President, I ask you to stop spreading hate and lies against our Asian American brothers and sisters,” he said. “The past two days have been terrible for our community, but it has not just been the last couple of days,” said Stephanie Cho, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta. “It is a growing hatred that has been perpetrated by white supremacy and has now been a culmination of this act.”
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At the Georgia State Capitol: Asian American and Pacific Islander State Legislators, joined by community organizations and supporters, respond to the spa shootings. pic.twitter.com/TaJcAyyYsu
— Valencia E. Jones (@vjreports3) March 18, 2021
Members of the Georgia NAACP and Georgia Legislative Black Caucus stood in solidarity. “We are saddened, we are mad and we are appalled,” said State Representative Derrick Jackson (D-64), who is also the vice chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. “To our Asian friends, we hear you, we see you, we respect you and we stand with you.”
Authorities say the suspect, Robert Long, indicated the shootings were not racially-motivated, but instead were an alleged effort to eliminate outlets feeding his sex addition. Legislators say that makes it a hate crime against the victims and against women. ”They’ve been characterized as a problem that needed to be eliminated,” said State Representative Bee Nguyen (D-Dist. 89), who compared Long to the men charged with Ahmaud Arbery’s death. “When we think about taking the word of the perpetrator themselves, how many of them are going to admit that it was a racially-motivated killing?”
They say it’s a call for further action, including gun legislation. “It’s hard in this moment to argue against even the most basic of gun safety measures,” said State Senator Michelle Au (D-Dist. 48). “I would urge us, as we have policy conversations around racial equity and tolerance, the protection of BIPOC communities, violence against women in all forms, gun safety, workforce safety, the plight of labor, mental health services,” said State Representative Marvin Lim (D-Dist. 99).
“Hate crime law does not prevent hate crime killings. That is why we have to address the xenophobia, the systemic racism. That is why we have to call out the usage of xenophobic language,” said Nguyen.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise From 40 To Over 70 At Tampa General Hospital
They’re also urging everyone to honor the victims and their families by making their voices heard.