State Watch

Atlanta police say they’re ‘looking at everything’ in shooting investigation

Eight people, including six Asian women, were killed at a trio of Georgia businesses this week
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Atlanta police on Thursday said they’re “looking at everything” in their investigation of the shooting spree that took place Tuesday, including the possibility of labeling the violence a hate crime.

“Our investigation is looking at everything, so nothing is off the table for our investigation,” Deputy Atlanta Police Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said at a news conference. 

On Wednesday, Atlanta police said it was too early to determine if the shootings, which killed eight people, including six Asian women, constituted a hate crime. 

The suspect Robert Aaron Long, who is white, told police that the attacks were not racially motivated. Instead, he said he had a “sexual addiction,” and saw the spas as a “temptation” he wanted to “eliminate.”

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday released the names of the victims who were killed at Young’s Asian Massage: Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Yan and Daoyou Feng.

The Atlanta Police Department has not yet released the names of the four individuals killed at Gold Spa. The incident report, however, confirms that all four victims are Asian women.

Georgia lawmakers passed a hate crimes law last year that permits additional penalties to be imposed for specific crimes that were motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability, the AP reported.

A hate crime is not a standalone crime, but can be used to increase someone’s sentence if they are convicted of another crime, the AP added.

The violence in Georgia comes as the country is facing a surge in anti-Asian bigotry. Earlier this week, NBC News reported that there were nearly 3,800 incidents of bias against Asian Americans reported over the past 12 months.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee’s civil rights subcommittee held a hearing denouncing the concerning rise of violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

“For many Asian Americans, Tuesday’s shocking events felt like the inevitable culmination of a year in which there were nearly 3,800 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate incidents that grew increasingly more violent over time as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened,” subpanel Chairman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said in his opening remarks, citing a recent study from the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate.

The situation in Atlanta also led President Biden and Vice President Harris to alter their plans for a previously scheduled trip to the city. On Friday, instead of holding a rally to discuss the recently passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the duo will meet with Asian American community leaders.

“The president and the vice president will also meet with representatives from the Georgia Asian-American and Pacific Islander community when they travel to Georgia on Friday,” press secretary Jen Psaki announced at a briefing Thursday.

“They will meet with the state legislators and community advocates to hear about the impact of the incident on the community, and to get their perspective on the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents,” she added.

Tags atlanta shooting Hate crime Jen Psaki Joe Biden President Biden Racism Steve Cohen Stop AAPI Hate Vice President Harris

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