After the recent spa shootings in Georgia, which left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women, hundreds of people attended an anti-racism rally in Atlanta on Saturday.
The rally, held at Atlanta’s Liberty Plaza, was attended by people of various backgrounds who gathered to commemorate the victims, CNN reports.
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Attendees also denounced xenophobia and racism, with several of them bringing signs that read messages such as “Stop Asian Hate” and “We are not the virus” in response to the shootings as well as the overall rise of anti-Asian violence over the past year.
Some of the rally’s speakers include Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen and U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, according to Voice of America.
.@SenatorWarnock and I addressed today’s rally in Atlanta to mourn the victims of this week’s massacre and to express our love and support for the Asian-American community in Georgia and nationwide. Gratitude to the organizers. pic.twitter.com/kG6GMju7wz
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) March 20, 2021
“I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, ‘We see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,'” Warnock said to the crowd. “We’re all in this thing together.”
Nguyen, who is the first Vietnamese American elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, declared, “No matter how you want to spin it, the facts remain the same: This was an attack on the Asian community.”
“Let’s join hands with our ally community and demand justice for not only these victims but for all victims of white supremacy,” she added.
Georgia U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff & Raphael Warnock, State Sen. Sheikh Rahman, State Reps. Bee Nguyen & Sam Park deliver messages of support for the Asian-American community, unity & action during a rally following shootings at 3 Atlanta-area Asian spas. #gapol @ossoff @BeeForGeorgia pic.twitter.com/omMe4YfhQw
— Rahul Bali (@rahulbali) March 20, 2021
Despite six out of the eight victims being of Asian descent, authorities claim that the Georgia killings were not racially motivated, according to ABC News.
The suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, blamed his rampage on sex addiction. Many have since criticized that claim for ignoring a potential anti-Asian bias that may have played some part in targeting Asian-owned businesses that were miles away from his home.
An official of Cherokee County faced backlash after claiming that Long was just having “a really bad day.” During the rally, Warnock addressed this claim, saying “I’m not interested in whether or not he had a bad day.”
— Deepa Shivaram (@deepa_shivaram) March 20, 2021
“We got to stop pretending like hate laws and laws regarding terrorism only apply to Black people and brown people and people of color and Muslims,” he added.