Story at a glance

  • Eight people were killed in a series of shootings in Atlanta massage parlors on Tuesday, six of whom were Asian women.
  • The attacks follow a steady rise in hate crimes against Asians in the United States over the last year.
  • Police have said it is too early to determine whether the killings were a hate crime.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said hate crime charges may still be appropriate in a series of shootings at three Atlanta massage parlors after police suggested the shooter’s motivations may be sexual. Six of the eight people who were killed in the shootings were Asian women, who are statistically the most at risk for anti-Asian violence. 


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“I think whatever the stiffest, most appropriate charges there are, this guy should face those charges,” Bottoms told CNN. “In Georgia, you can be charged with a hate crime. It covers a variety of areas, and I personally think it would be appropriate, but I will defer to the prosecutors to make that determination.”


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Atlanta police have not announced charges against the shooter and Rodney Bryant, acting chief of the Atlanta Police Department, said during a press conference Wednesday, “We’ve received a number of calls about, is this a hate crime? We’re still early in this investigation, so we cannot make that determination at this moment. Again, we are very early in this investigation.”

Police did say, however, that the shooter, who is white, claimed the attacks were not racially motivated and that a "sexual addiction” led him to plan and carry out the shootings at three businesses in two different counties, killing six Asian women. Experts say that this does not preclude a racial motivation, however, considering both the credibility of the shooter himself and the intersection of racism and sexism in the fetishization of Asian women. Women made up more than two-thirds of victims in anti-Asian hate incidents last year, which have surged since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Stop AAPI Hate.

“Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian,” Mayor Bottoms said during the press conference. “We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop.”


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Published on Mar 18, 2021