'Stand against hate, racism': President Biden condemns Atlanta mass shooting
US President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the rising violence against Asian-Americans in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Atlanta, targeting Asian massage parlors. He urged Americans to stand against racism and xenophobia, calling hate and racism "the ugly poison that's long-haunted our nation." He was speaking at Atlanta's Emory University on his first joint trip with Vice-President Kamala Harris. Here's more.
About the mass shooting in Atlanta
The shootings, which took place earlier this week on Tuesday at three massage parlors in Atlanta and the nearby Cherokee County, left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent. Notably, the suspect in the mass shooting, a 21-year-old white man named Robert Aaron Long, was charged with eight counts of murders as well as one count of aggravated assault.
Officials released names of victims who died in the attacks
Meanwhile, authorities on Friday released the full names of the eight victims who lost their lives in the shootings. They reportedly included Daoyou Feng (44), Delaina Ashley Yaun (33), Hyun Jung Grant (51), Paul Andre Michels (54), Soon Chung Park (74), Suncha Kim (69), Xiaojie Tan (49), and Yong Ae Yue (63). Another person named Elcias Hernandez Ortiz (30) is still hospitalized, officials said.
'We have to speak out,' says Biden in his address
"There are simply some core values of belief that should bring us together as Americans, one of them should be standing together against hate, against racism," said Biden at Emory University. "Hate and violence often hide in plain sight and are so often met with silence. But that has to change...silence is complicity...We have to speak out. We have to act," he added.
'Hate can have no safe harbor in America'
Urging people to fight hate and racism, Biden said, "For all the good that laws can do, we have to change our hearts. Hate can have no safe harbor in America...It's on all of us, all of us together, to make it stop." Violence against Asian-Americans has been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many blaming Asians for it.
Biden urges Congress to pass COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill
Moreover, Biden urged the US Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill introduced by Asian-American lawmakers earlier in March. The White House said the Bill will "expedite the federal government's response to the rise of hate crimes exacerbated during the pandemic, support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting, and ensure that hate crimes information is more accessible to Asian-American communities."
Racism is real in America; it has always been: Harris
Speaking at the university, Harris said, "Racism is real in America, and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been." "The last year we've had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian-Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate," added Harris—the first Vice-President of Asian descent whose parents immigrated to US from India and Jamaica.
Georgia trip was planned before the mass shooting took place
To recall, Biden and Harris's Georgia trip was planned before the Atlanta mass shooting took place. While their trip was originally supposed to focus on their COVID-19 battle plan, they both held an 80-minute meeting with local Asian-American and Pacific Islander lawmakers, community members, and other leaders. They offered solace and also denounced the racist attacks against the community.