ATLANTA, Ga. — Rallies were held across the United States over the weekend to protest against Asian hate and demand justice in last week’s spa shootings in the Atlanta area.
A total of eight people were killed, including six Asian women, when 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long allegedly opened fire at three different spas on Tuesday. The suspect is facing several charges, including multiple murder counts.
The horrific shootings are seen as a tipping point in country, where there’s been an increase in hate crime committed against Asian Americans over the past year. Some have blamed rhetoric related to the coronavirus for the increase.
Since the shootings, activists and supporters of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have spoken out, demanding change.
At protests held in several cities, crowds called for an end to racism and xenophobia. One of those rallies was held near the Georgia state Capitol, where speakers like U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff advocated for gun reform and stronger hate-crime laws. State Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House, was also present.
Another rally was held in Pittsburgh, where “Killing Eve” and “Grey’s Anatomy” actress Sandra Oh made a surprise appearance. KDKA reports Oh spoke for about two minutes and led the crowd in a chant of “I am proud to be Asian.”
“And one way to kind of go through and get through our fear is to reach out to our communities. Reach out – everyone here, I will offer, I will challenge everyone here, if you see something, will you help me?” said Oh.
Hundreds of protesters also marched in cities like Chicago, New York City and Washington D.C.
Along with activists, companies and politicians have also spoken out publicly against the shootings and Asian hate in general, including President Joe Biden. He and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Georgia to speak with Asian American leaders about what needs to be done to address the problem.
“As the president and I discussed with the AAPI community in a meeting earlier today, whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear: six out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent, seven were women, the shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans, the shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans has risen dramatically over the last year and more,” said Harris. “In fact, over the past year, 3,800 such incidents have been reported, two of three by women, everything from physical assault to verbal accusations. And it’s all harmful. And sadly, it’s not new.”