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Crowds protest violence against Asian Americans after Atlanta shootings

Demonstrations protesting violence against Asian Americans erupted in multiple cities on Wednesday after a shooting spree in Atlanta left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women.

In Washington, D.C., approximately 200 people gathered in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. Demonstrators held a vigil and marched and chanted through the city, carrying signs that said “Asian Lives Matter” and more.

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“I am angry. I’m furious,” Janet Namkung, who attended the vigil, told NBC4 in Washington. “I know people who have been called all kinds of slurs, fearing their lives on the streets every day.” 

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In New York City, hundreds of people gathered in New York City's Jackson Heights neighborhood, an area home to a large Asian American population, to hold a vigil and demonstrate against a spike in violence against Asian Americans, The New York Times reported.

Members of the group held candles and gave tearful speeches, according to the Times, in addition to chanting “Stop the hate.” 

Angélica Acevedo, a reporter in the area, shared photos and video of the vigil on Twitter. 

In Atlanta, memorials were set up outside the massage parlors where the shootings occurred earlier this week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Cherokee County, Ga., resident Cindy Anderson placed a plant outside of one of the massage parlors, Youngs Asian Massage, telling the newspaper that the deaths in the shooting “weighed on her heart.”

"They’re our neighbors and they deserved better than this,” she said, through tears. “These people were just coming to work yesterday, just like they do every day of the week.”

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Atlanta police on Wednesday said it was too early to determine whether the shootings at the massage parlors in the city constitute a hate crime.

The suspected gunman, Robert Aaron Long, who is white, claimed the attacks were not racially motivated, according to authorities, adding that the 21-year-old suspect said he has a "sexual addiction."

A recent study from California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism showed that hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 of the country’s largest cities spiked nearly 150 percent in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate said Tuesday that it received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans over the last year. 

President BidenJoe BidenVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected BuzzFeed News finds Biden's private Venmo account Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 MORE last week condemned “vicious hate crimes” against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during a prime-time address marking the first anniversary of pandemic restrictions in the U.S.

"It's wrong. It's un-American. And it must stop," Biden said.