By: Alyssa Wilson
After eight people were killed, six identifying as Asian women, during a shooting spree at three spas in the Atlanta area, lawmakers are reacting to the violence and hate geared towards the Asian community.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Atlanta to meet with leaders of the Asian American community, NPR reports.
Biden has also issued a proclamation that flags be flown at half-staff at the White House, public buildings, and military and naval stations throughout the United States until Monday.
Since March 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, attacks against Asians have been on the rise.
Many have linked the violence to former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about Asians and coronavirus.
A national report released by the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center revealed that more than 3,000 incidents were reported, including cases of verbal harassment, shunning, physical assault, civil rights violations and online harassment.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on violence and discrimination against Asians in the United States. The hearing was scheduled before the Atlanta shootings, according to CBS.
During the proceedings, Congresswoman Judy Chu, the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the rise in attacks are linked to Trump’s rhetoric.
Republican Representative Chip Roy of Texas made controversial remarks saying, his concern about the hearing “is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”
While arguing that justice is wanted for the victims, Roy also made references to lynchings, according to CNN.
“There’s an old saying in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously and we ought to do that, round up the bad guys,” he said.
One of the worst lynching incidents in our history was perpetrated against the Chinese community of Los Angeles when some 20 people were killed and hanged by an angry white mob. This language is unacceptable, and Chip Roy is an ignorant inciter. https://t.co/6EROMC2B9G
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 18, 2021
Representative Grace Meng responded to Roy by saying, “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bull’s eye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids.”
Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said the shootings looked like a hate crime.
“There are many areas of hate that are covered within the definition of a hate crime, so I think any way that you look at it, it is a hate crime. It should be treated as such.”
Keisha Lance Bottoms said the shooting looks like a hate crime since Asian spas were targeted and most of the victims were Asian women. The shooter, Robert Aaron Long, told police that the act was not racially motivated but instead tied to his sexual addiction. #StartYourDay pic.twitter.com/XS81yyNSpx
— BNC (@BNCNews) March 19, 2021
Law enforcement officials have not yet ruled it a hate crime. They say the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, told them the shootings were not racially motivated but instead linked to his sexual addiction.
According to Fox 5 Atlanta, a vigil was held for the victims on Thursday evening.