House votes to condemn Atlanta spa shootings
The House voted Wednesday to pass a resolution condemning the shooting rampage at three Asian-owned spas in the greater Atlanta area in March that claimed the lives of eight people, including six women of Asian descent.
The vote was 244-180, with all of the “no” votes coming from Republicans.
The action came one day after the House voted 364-62 to pass legislation to combat the rise in hate crimes that have targeted Asian Americans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago. President Biden is expected to sign that bill, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, as early as Thursday.
The separate nonbinding resolution, authored by Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu (D-Calif.), not only condemns the Atlanta attack, it also honors and names the victims, some whom were immigrants: Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Yong Ae Yue, Soon Chung “Julie” Park, Hyun Jung Grant and Sun Cha Kim.
“The Georgia shooting came in the midst of an alarming surge in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, which has caused many Asian Americans across the United States to feel fearful and unsafe,” the resolution reads.
“Sixty-eight percent of reported incidents of anti-Asian hate targeted Asian-American women, a population that has been historically marginalized, sexualized, and fetishized.”
More broadly, the resolution reaffirms the commitment of the House and the federal government “to combat hate, bigotry, and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”
Passage of both the resolution and hate crimes legislation comes during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“As we commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community continues to be terrified by the alarming rise in anti-Asian hate and violence that have become near daily tragedies,” Chu said in a floor speech Tuesday.
“In March, the fear that many Asian Americans were feeling reached a crisis point when a gunman targeted three Asian-owned spas in Georgia, killing eight people, including six Asian women. This killer, so motivated by hate, intentionally sought out Asian immigrant women,” she added.
Chu said she was pleased that a prosecutor in Fulton County announced last week that she would prosecute murders at two of the spas as hate crimes and seek the death penalty against the 21-year-old suspect. Prosecutors in Cherokee County, where one of the spas was located, have not said whether they will treat the four shooting deaths there as a hate crime.
“Local sheriffs have tried to diminish these crimes by saying that the shooter had a sex addiction and a bad day. But he had plenty of other places to go in that time. Instead, he chose three places where Asian women would be killed,” Chu said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this was a hate crime.”