The shootings in Atlanta come as anti-Asian hate crimes have seen a stunning uptick in the US throughout the past year of the pandemic. Six of the eight victims were Asian. The massage parlors advertised their largely Asian staff. According to one study, though overall hate crimes decreased by 7% in 16 major US cities in 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased 149%, first spiking in March and April when COVID-19 began its spread.
In response to the recent shootings in the greater Atlanta area, which targeted Asian women, Marcela Howell, founder, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, issued the following statement:
“We send our deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the people killed and hope that those who were injured recover fully. We mourn with the families and friends of those who died, with the Georgia community and with our Asian sisters who have been the targets of anti-Asian hatred in the wake of COVID-19.
“While law enforcement officials have announced that the shooter’s motivation was ‘sex addiction,’ we know that sexual violence and racism are often intertwined when it comes to violence against women. Anti-Asian violence has escalated over the last year with more than 68 percent of the reported incidents coming from women.
Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs Tuesday evening left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said.
The attacks began around 5 p.m., when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Baker said.
“We stand in solidarity with AAPI women and people. We denounce the racist, xenophobic violence that continues across the country. Make no mistake, white male supremacy is at the core of these latest attacks and all of the hate violence against Asian communities. As Black women, we know that our Asian-American sisters are disparately impacted at the intersections of racism, sexism and xenophobia,” continues Howell.
People For the American Way President Ben Jealous released the following statement:
“Our hearts are with our AAPI brothers and sisters in the Atlanta metro area and across the country as the FBI and local police continue their investigations into last night’s shootings that left eight people dead, including six Asian American women. Any loss of life is tragic. That this vicious attack should happen in a community that has already suffered so much as a result of anti-Asian bigotry, stoked in large part by the former administration, is heart-wrenching. We stand in solidarity with our Asian American brothers and sisters and extend prayers for the families of those who were killed.”