A police officer who received criticism for appearing to sympathize with the Atlanta mass shooting suspect was found to have made an anti-Asian post on Facebook.
Capt. Jay Baker, a spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, sparked controversy Wednesday after stating that 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long was having “a really bad day” when he reportedly shot eight people dead the night before.
Long, who blamed his rampage on “sex addiction,” is accused of killing six Asian women from three massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Whether or not he is prosecuted for hate crimes is yet to be seen.
As Baker’s remarks drew flak on social media, one Twitter user found a Facebook post he made in April 2020, which appeared to advertise an anti-China shirt. The post is no longer available as of this writing.
The shirt appears to be based on the Corona beer label. It says “COVID 19,” along with a subtitle that reads “Imported virus from CHY-NA.”
“Love my shirt,” Baker wrote. “Get yours while they last.”
The $22 shirt in question appears to be printed by Deadline Appeal, which is owned by a former deputy sheriff from Cherokee County.
The store also prints shirts for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, a “ceremonial unit, all volunteers, who represent not only the Sheriff’s Office but also the county when participating in a variety of events.”
Attacks against Asian Americans have increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many attribute the rise in incidence to the Trump administration’s anti-China rhetoric.
A surge in these crimes has been observed in the last several weeks, plenty of which targeted elderly Asians. Since March 2020, the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate has recorded nearly 3,800 incidents.
Baker has yet to publicly address the controversy surrounding his actions. Among his critics is actress Arden Cho, who called him “racist.”
“Cop says it’s not a hate crime, it’s him just having a bad day,” Cho wrote on Twitter. “Oh ok… NO. It’s because you’re a racist also Jay Baker.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen also questioned Baker’s Facebook post.
“Instead of even considering the killing of six Asian women a hate crime, Captain Jay Baker said it was a ‘really bad day’ for the suspect,” Nguyen tweeted. “The shirt he likes says ‘COVID-19 Imported Virus from Chy-Na.’ I wonder if these are related…”
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