On Tuesday night, eight people were killed in a shooting at three massage parlors in Atlanta. Of the victims, seven were of Asian descent. A white man has been arrested and accused of the shootings and the attack is largely believed to be racially driven amid an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S.
But, police also noted it is still too early in the investigation to definitively state a motive and that the suspect appeared to have been acting alone. Earlier today, Long was charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department.
Four of the victims have since been identified. Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz were injured during the attacks.
Anti-Asian hate crimes on the rise since COVID-19 pandemic
As a result, Stop AAPI Hate formed in March of last year to prevent discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic. Not only does the group collect data on hate and harassment incidents against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, but they also advocate for action in the community.
Additionally, in a report released on Tuesday, the group said it had received reports of anti-Asian hate 3,795 incidents between March 19 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021. However, the group said the number could be higher as not all incidents go reported.
The report was released before the incident in Atlanta. Hence, Stop AAPI Hate called the shootings ‚Äúan unspeakable tragedy‚Äù for the victims‚Äô families and an Asian-American community that has ‚Äúbeen reeling from high levels of racist attacks.‚Äù
Experts have pointed to several factors behind the rise in anti-Asian racism during the pandemic, including a history of xenophobia toward Asian communities, as well as former President Donald Trump and other political leaders‚Äô repeated use of racist rhetoric to describe Covid-19.
Since the shootings, a number of Asian American celebrities to condemn the killings and speak out against targeted hate crimes in the community, with the hashtag Stop Asian Hate going viral.
Since the incident took place, many are calling on authorities to treat the incident like a hate crime. Similarly, Star Wars star George Takei wants the media to "call a hate crime what it is."
To All the Boys I Loved Before star, Lana Condor asks fans to check in on friends and family in the Asian community, "even if they aren't publicly grieving on social media."
Eugene Lee Yang
Another figure, YouTuber and co-host of "The Try Guys," Eugene Lee Yang calls upon the community to express their feelings and actively take a stand against anti-Asian hate. "Say it. Send it. Scream it," Yang writes.
On the other hand, actress Padma Lakshami believes the previous President is to blame for the "racist" comments made throughout the pandemic. Slurs like "Kung-Flu" and "the China virus" only add to the xenophobia and hate against the community.
For those who don't know, Jimmy Wong clarifies what a virus really is. "Hate is a virus. Disinformation is a virus. Fear based media is a virus..."
Additionally, Olivia Munn pleaded with social media users to help end racism in the country. "We need help to be safe in our country."
RuPaul's Drag Race star, Jiggly Caliente also posted a striking image. To sum up the post, a child is holding a poster with the words, "Asian is not a virus, racism is."
Vice President Kamala Harris
In view of the Atlanta tragedy, even Vice President Harris spoke out against the on-going violence in the Asian-American community. "I want the Asian-American community to know we stand with you," she tweeted.
More than 100 people marched in Chinatown and lit candles, mourning the eight lives lost in Atlanta. Washington DC also held a vigil the night after the shooting.