WASHINGTON — One year ago on March 16, a gunman sought out and entered three Asian-owned spas in Georgia, opened fire, and killed eight people, including six Asian women. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements:
CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “One year later, it is still difficult to grasp the horrors of this day and what it meant to the Asian American community. After a year of warning that xenophobic slurs like ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu’ were putting Asian lives at risk, America was shocked awake to this reality by the murder of eight people, including six Asian women, in an act of pure hate.
“Days later, I led a delegation to Georgia, where we retraced the steps of the killer as he drove 27 miles in search of spas where he knew that he would find Asian women, who he knew to be among the most vulnerable. And I also met with the families of the victims, who told us through tears what their loved ones meant to them. These murders have left holes in the lives of loved ones and their communities that can never be filled, and it drove home to the Asian American community and the rest of the country just how dangerous the spike in anti-Asian hate had become.
“But as horrific as this day was, it was incredibly encouraging to see the outpouring of support that followed, including the bipartisan passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which will help improve our ability to respond to and track hate crimes. But, one year later, with anti-Asian hate crimes continuing to climb to over 11,000 incidents, it is clear that we must do more to honor the memory of all these victims by uniting to reject hate and xenophobia and ensure that everyone feels safe in this country.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), CAPAC first vice chair: “On the one-year anniversary of the Georgia spa shootings, we remember the eight individuals, including the six Asian women, who were senselessly gunned down in a mass shooting in the Atlanta area. The pain and heartbreak of this tragedy are still felt throughout the AAPI community as we continue to see AAPIs – especially AAPI women – battling violence, hate, and discrimination. Racism, misogyny, and bigotry have no place in our country.
“Days after the massacre, I traveled to Atlanta with several of my CAPAC colleagues where we met with family members of those who were murdered, laid flowers at the shooting sites, and spoke with Asian American leaders from the area. My heart continues to be with the victims’ loved ones, and their communities on this tragic anniversary.
“Let us honor the lives of those eight individuals, including the six Asian women, and commit to fighting xenophobia and hate wherever and whenever we see it.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC second vice chair: “The anniversary of the Atlanta spa shooting is a stark reminder of the harm that anti-AAPI sentiment poses on our society. One year later, my thoughts remain with the victims’ families and friends who are still mourning the unjust death of their loved ones. I feel comforted by the fact that Congress took leadership in addressing these issues of violence by passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and President Biden signing it into law, but our work is not done yet. We must always speak out against all discrimination or prejudice that takes place in our country. I will continue to be a voice for the AAPI community and advocate against of hate, bigotry, and ignorance.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), CAPAC whip: “One year ago, a shooter targeted three separate Asian-owned spas in Atlanta, killing eight innocent people and injuring several others. My prayers continue to be with the families of the victims. This was an unspeakable tragedy that occurred during a time of heightened violence against Asian Americans. I am thankful we have a president who is working with us to Stop Asian Hate. May we honor the victims of this senseless tragedy by coming together in the ongoing fight against hatred, intolerance, and bigotry.”
Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii), CAPAC freshman representative: “My heart remains with the families and loved ones of the victims who are no longer with us. Our Asian American community has endured too much unwarranted hate and violence throughout this pandemic. Enough is enough. As we navigate these difficult times, we must continue to actively look out for each other, raise awareness to this issue and remind ourselves that this cannot be our new normal.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “One year after the horrific spa shootings in Atlanta, the increased rise in anti-Asian hate crimes continues to spur fear, anger and grief in the Asian and Pacific Islander community. In remembrance of the women who were murdered in Atlanta, and all victims of verbal abuse, physical attacks and other acts of discrimination, we must work hard to eradicate hate based violence.
“I’m proud to have worked so hard to get the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act signed into law in order to provide the Department of Justice with the tools it needs to combat anti-Asian and all forms of hate crimes and incidents. This law is an important step forward in our fight to end hate crimes, but our work is far from over.
“Everyone in this country deserves to feel safe and welcome in our communities. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our communities to ensure they have the resources and assistance to put an end to these senseless attacks.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “When a shooter targeted and murdered six Asian women in the Atlanta spa shootings one year ago today, it was a horrific reminder of the systemic hate that has plagued our Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities throughout our nation’s history. We know that blaming the AANHPI community for a public health crisis is racist and wrong, and that’s why I’m so proud President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which I helped introduce, into law to help protect our fellow Americans from the rise in anti-Asian hate and attacks that we’ve seen since the start of this pandemic.
“Yet, with anti-Asian hate crimes up by 339% in the last year, it’s clear we must do more to stop the violence that’s continuing to terrorize the AANHPI community. We are not the ‘other,’ and I’ll continue to do everything I can to help put an end to the disease of hatred that’s spreading through our country right now.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the horrific attack in Georgia, I join my colleagues in condemning violence and racism against the AAPI community. My heart is with the family and loved ones of those who were tragically killed. Violence and discrimination will never be tolerated.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.): “One year ago today, I watched in horror seeing the news of the shootings in Atlanta. I’ll never forget the raw emotion from the families of the victims when we met with them, and they asked what Congress would do to help keep the Asian American community safe. While I’m proud to have passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act of 2021, we know it is still not enough.
“Since then, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased. While we are still vulnerable and exhausted as a community, we are also stronger, united, and more resolved than ever to stand up, speak out, and stop AAPI hate.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “One year ago, we witnessed the heartbreaking loss of life in the Atlanta spa shooting when a hate-driven gunman opened fire, killing eight innocent people, including six women of Asian descent. We must commit ourselves once again to ending this tragic cycle of violence and hatred against the Asian-American community. Americans of all races must be able to feel safe living in this country as we together pursue the American Dream.
“I urge my colleagues to take up my Hate Crimes Commission Act, and other legislation aimed at combatting violent bigotry, as we continue to work toward a more perfect union.”
Rep, Bobby Scott (D-Va.): “Today we remember the victims of the shootings in Georgia as we continue to speak out against the ongoing violence toward Asian Americans. One year ago, eight innocent people were shot on March 16, 2021. Seven were women, six were women of Asian descent and several were immigrants. These three separate shootings took place at Asian-owned businesses.
“What happened in Georgia is evidence of the forces of discrimination and sexism that have been allowed to grow in our country. I stand with my CAPAC colleagues to condemn these hate crimes and believe we must do better as a society.”
Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.): “One year ago today, six Asian women and two others were brutally murdered in what is known as the Atlanta spa shootings. This event, like other anti-Asian hate crimes, has brought pain but it has also inspired action — to stand up and be proud of our Asian American heritage and to call out racially motivated violence for what it is.
“As a Black and Korean woman, I am acutely aware of how it feels to be erased or ignored. But no matter what some may say, I matter. To my fellow Asian women, you matter.”