ALL NEWS

Hundreds in Atlanta rally against hate after spa shootings

Mar 20, 2021, 4:43 PM
Camden Hunt poses for a picture at a rally on Saturday, March 20, 2021, across from the Georgia sta...
Camden Hunt poses for a picture at a rally on Saturday, March 20, 2021, across from the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta to demand justice for the victims of shootings at massage businesses days earlier. A 21-year-old white man is accused of killing eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area massage businesses Tuesday. Hunt said she came out to the rally Saturday to “show Black and Asian solidarity.” (AP Photo/Kate Brumback)
(AP Photo/Kate Brumback)

ATLANTA (AP)  The hundreds of people of all ages and varied racial and ethnic backgrounds who gathered in Liberty Plaza in Atlanta waved signs and cheered for speakers, including U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House.

“I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, we see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,” Warnock said to loud cheers and against the backdrop of drivers in passing cars honking their horns in support. “We’re all in this thing together.”

Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, is accused of killing four people inside two Atlanta spas and four others at a massage business about 30 miles (50 kilometers) away in suburban Cherokee County. Six of the eight people killed on Tuesday were women of Asian descent. Another person also was shot but survived.

Investigators have said Long confessed to the slayings but said they weren’t racially motivated. He claimed to have a sex addiction, which caused him to lash out at what he saw as sources of temptation, according to authorities. Police have said they’re still working to establish a motive, including looking into whether the attacks can be classified as hate crimes.

Georgia lawmakers last year passed a hate crimes law that allows additional penalties to be imposed for certain offenses when motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability. A hate crime is not a standalone crime under the law, but it can be used to add time to a sentence once someone is convicted of another crime.

“No matter how you want to spin it, the facts remain the same. This was an attack on the Asian community,” said Nguyen, who has been a frequent advocate for women and communities of color. She noted that the shooter targeted businesses operated by women of Asian descent.

“Let’s join hands with our ally community and demand justice for not only these victims but for all victims of white supremacy,” she said.

A couple hundred people gathered in a separate park in the heart of downtown Atlanta and marched together through the streets to join the larger rally, yelling slogans like “Stop Asian hate” and “We are what America looks like.”

Frankie Laguna, 23, who grew up in Atlanta but now lives in Tennessee, was an organizer of that group and told the crowd she was the first person in her family born in the U.S. after her mother came here from Taiwan.

“I’m sick of being belittled and hypersexualized and hated for who I am, for something I can’t change,” she said as the group began marching toward the Capitol.

She also participated in protests last summer against racial injustice and police brutality. “I’m tired of having to be out here every year to fight the same fight,” she said.

Bernard Dong, a 24-year-old student from China at Georgia Tech, said he came out to the protest across from the Capitol to demand rights not just for Asians but for all minorities. “Many times Asian people are too silent, but times change,” he said.

Dong said he was “angry and disgusted” about the shootings, and the violence that persists in 2021 against Asians, minorities and women.

Otis Wilson, a 38-year-old photographer who’s Black, said people need to pay attention to the discrimination those of Asian descent face. “We went through this last year with the Black community, and we’re not the only ones who go through this,” he said.

Camden Hunt, a 28-year-old Black woman, said she first got involved in activism in her native Baltimore. She previously attended protests over the death of Freddie Gray, a Black man who suffered a broken neck in police custody in Baltimore in 2015, triggering riots and protests that year. She moved to Atlanta four years ago and got involved in community organizing, last summer pulling together an event to support Black women victimized by police violence.

Hunt came out to the rally Saturday to “show Black and Asian solidarity.” She said she was heartened by the diverse crowd: “I think it’s amazing. I look out and I see people of all shades and ages and backgrounds.”
___
Associated Press writer Candice Choi in Atlanta contributed reporting.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

The US Food and Drug Administration said it is closely working with drug manufacturers to assess a ...
Carma Hassan, CNN

Children’s painkillers in high demand as respiratory illnesses rise

The US Food and Drug Administration said it is closely working with drug manufacturers to assess the situation.
6 hours ago
The Air Force is set to unveil the newest stealth bomber aircraft on Dec. 2. Photo credit: Northrop...
Haley Britzky and Ellie Kaufman, CNN

Air Force unveils newest stealth bomber aircraft

The newest stealth bomber was unveiled on Friday in California.
1 day ago
Former astronaut and Utah Sen. Jake Garn will be honored Saturday with an art installation tribute ...
Mark Jones

Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn to be honored with art tribute on Saturday

Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn will be honored with an art installation tribute Saturday at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
1 day ago
A west valley police car is pictured. Police are investigating a hit and run...
Mark Jones

Fire in West Valley City home contained to one room in basement

A fire inside a West Valley City home Friday was contained to one room in the basement, according to fire officials on scene.
1 day ago
Authorities in Washington County are investigating the discovery of the body of a 36-year-old man e...
Mark Jones

Staff member at school in southern Utah arrested for alleged sexual abuse

A 22-year-old staff member of a school in southern Utah was arrested Thursday by the Washington County Sheriff's Office for alleged sexual abuse.
1 day ago
President John F. Kennedy signs the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Cente...
Curt Gresseth

Is forcing the homeless into treatment the answer?

NYC Mayor Eric Adams has announced a program that involuntarily treats homeless people in "psychiatric crisis." A BYU psychologist weighs the New York approach against the ethics of patient autonomy.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Hundreds in Atlanta rally against hate after spa shootings