President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are expected to travel to Atlanta, Georgia Friday (March 19) to meet with Asian American leaders there in the wake of the gruesome triple shooting that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.
President Biden was originally scheduled to travel around the country this week to promote his “Help is Here” tour to highlight the benefits of the historic American Rescue Plan passed last week.
“The President will also offer his support for the AAPI community in Georgia and across the country and talk about his commitment to combating xenophobia, intolerance and hate,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on Thursday (March 18).
The shootings took place at three Atlanta-area spas on Tuesday evening (March 16). Police arrested a suspect, 21-year-old Robert Long, that same evening after capturing him on a highway 150 miles south of Atlanta. Though officials didn’t immediately describe the shootings as a hate crime, the AAPI community has condemned the attacks as targeted and racist. Groups like Stop AAPI Hate have been raising awareness about the growing number of attacks since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the organization, more than 3,800 racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans were reported last year alone.
Advocates also called out a police official who allegedly posted a photo of a racist t-shirt last year who spoke during a press conference following Long’s arrest.
President Biden spoke out against the hate crimes during his first primetime address on March 11 stating that the AAPI community has been “attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”
“At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the front lines of the pandemic trying to save lives, and still, still, they are forced to live in fear for their lives, just walking down the streets in America,” Biden said. “...it must stop,” he added.
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