A series of deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area spas (which left eight people dead, including six Asian women) has left authorities investigating whether the (white) suspect, Robert Aaron Long (21), committed a targeted hate crime. Those fears are naturally rising to the forefront during what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is recognizing as a wave of renewed attacks against Asian Americans amid the continuing U.S. outbreak of COVID-19. The New York Times adds that at least 3,800 Asian Americans have been targeted in hate-inspired incidents over the past year — after ex-President Trump recklessly referred to the disease as the “China VIrus,” a racial slur that he repeated on Fox News on Tuesday night, the same night these spa shootings took place.
NBC News reports that the FBI joined the investigation to assist local authorities, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has condemned the violence while stating, “[A] crime against any community is a crime against us all.” The New York Times is reporting word from authorities about the investigation into the motive, and there will be backlash, given that Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said of Long, “He does claim that it was not racially motivated… He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction.”
However, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spoke with the AJC and confirmed word from police that four of the late victims were of Korean descent. On social media, Asian-American stars are calling for action with many of the community’s prominent voices, including Santa Cruz Warriors point guard Jeremy Lin, who recently revealed that another player had flat-out referred to him as “‘coronavirus’ on the court.” Lin is calling for change, and he added, “To my Asian American family, please take time to grieve but know youre loved, seen and IMPORTANT.”
This is sooo heartbreaking…praying for our world. To my Asian American family, please take time to grieve but know youre loved, seen and IMPORTANT. We have to keep standing up, speaking out, rallying together and fighting for change. We cannot lose hope!! #StopAsianHate #NOW https://t.co/Xm4ojbJALw
— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) March 17, 2021
Lin was joined by Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star, Simu Liu, who wrote, “Still much we don’t know, but it’s clear to me that the shooter specifically targeted Asian women.”
Feeling overwhelming grief at the senseless murder of 8 people in Atlanta. Still much we don't know, but it's clear to me that the shooter specifically targeted Asian women.
Praying for the victims' families, and for my Asian sisters. Action to follow.https://t.co/DjMcG0sBbv
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) March 17, 2021
Padma Lakshmi is standing firm as well: “What happened last night was a hate crime and we should all be treating it as such.”
What happened last night was a hate crime and we should all be treating it as such.
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) March 17, 2021
Asian women are more than twice as likely to be targeted in hate crimes than Asian men.
The misogyny and racism runs deep.
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) March 17, 2021
These voices were joined by Daniel Dae Kim, Mindy Kaling (who specifically calls out “the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year”), George Takei, and Olivia Munn, and Lana Condor.
The race of the person committing the crime matters less than the simple fact that if you act with hate in your heart, you are part of the problem. And to those with the power to help and yet sit idly by, your silence is complicity. #StopAsianHate https://t.co/0QaLoXhtP0
— Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) March 17, 2021
The targeting of our Asian brothers and sisters is sickening, but not surprising given the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year. We have to #StopAsianHate, enough is enough!
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) March 17, 2021
Three days ago, the leader of the House GOP called it the “China Virus” again.
Words have consequences, especially those from our leaders.
Reporters: Ask politicians who trade in racism if they feel responsible or remorseful for violence committed in the wake of their words.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 17, 2021
Oh my God. Help us. —> Atlanta Massage Parlor Shootings: Asian Women Among 8 Dead | Time https://t.co/lHnf9l7qdT
— o l i v i a (@oliviamunn) March 17, 2021
Wake up… your Asian friends and family are deeply scared, horrified, sick to their stomachs and wildly angry. Please please please check in on us, please please please stand with us. Please. Your Asian friend needs you, even if they aren’t publicly grieving on social media. x
— Lana Condor (@lanacondor) March 17, 2021