Hundreds gathered nationwide to honor victims of Atlanta spa shootings

Hundreds gathered nationwide to honor victims of Atlanta spa shootings
via WSB-TV
Michelle De Pacina
March 18, 2024
The Asian Justice Movement organized events nationwide to commemorate the deadly shooting spree at three metro Atlanta massage spas nearly three years ago.
Key points:
  • Activists across four major U.S. cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, gathered on Saturday to remember the eight people killed. The events also featured dance and music performances as part of the effort to bring people together in commemoration and solidarity.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris expressed solidarity with the Asian community, emphasizing the need to combat gun violence and hate.
Catch up:
  • On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long, the then 21-year-old shooter, purchased a rifle and went on a shooting spree at two Asian spas and a massage parlor in Atlanta and Acworth, resulting in the deaths of eight people, including six Asian women. 
  • Long has since pleaded guilty in Cherokee County and is serving a life sentence while awaiting trial in Atlanta, where prosecutors seek the death penalty. Despite Long denying ethnicity as a motive, many Asian American groups believe otherwise. The shootings occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and were widely perceived as hate crimes, contributing to the “Stop Asian Hate” movement. 
The details:
  • On the anniversary of the tragedy, hundreds gathered nationwide, including at the Korean Community Center in Gwinnett County, to honor the victims and stand against discrimination. Family members of the victims also attended, including Mike Webb, husband of one of the victims, who reflected on how the event had forever changed their lives.
  • Nam Le, a performer at the event, told WSB-TV that prior to the shooting, the Asian community felt they hadn’t sufficiently stood up for themselves. However, the tragedy “sparked something and brought us all together,” empowering the community to come together in solidarity.
  • The ceremony saw significant involvement from young individuals, engaging in musical performances, speeches and a traditional lion dance. “My grandmother is a Korean American. Some of the women that were shot and killed look like my grandmother, and I was extremely disheartened. So, I decided something needed to be done,” said high school student Tyler Lee, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.
  • Organizers also emphasized the importance of political participation, urging attendees to vote in upcoming elections to demonstrate the significance of combatting Asian hate to elected officials, both locally and across the metro area. 
Vice president’s message: 
  • Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison Erika L. Moritsugu traveled to Georgia to deliver a letter from Harris to the community members.
  • In the letter, the vice president expressed condolences and solidarity with the victims and their families, denouncing hate-fueled gun violence and emphasizing the administration’s commitment to addressing such issues. She highlights legislative efforts to combat hate crimes and discrimination against the Asian community, stressing the importance of unity and advocacy in creating safer communities. 
  • “In America, no matter who you are and no matter where your ancestors came from, you should be able to go to work or walk down the street and feel safe. That is why President Biden and I have continued our work to advance measures to address gun violence and keep our children and communities safe. Together, we fought to enact the first major gun safety law in nearly 30 years, and we launched the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention—an office that I oversee,” Harris wrote.
What’s next:
  • Members of Georgia’s Legislative Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus will continue to advocate for stricter gun laws and enhanced safety measures in Georgia, including initiatives to incentivize the purchase of gun lock boxes for safer storage at home.
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