WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden has expressed outrage over the killing of eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors.
"Jill and I are keeping everyone impacted by the shootings in Atlanta in our prayers," Biden wrote on Twitter.
"We don’t yet know the motive, but what we do know is that the Asian-American community is feeling enormous pain tonight. The recent attacks against the community are un-American. They must stop," he said.
Six of the victims of Tuesday's shootings were identified as Asian and seven were women.
A 21-year-old white man has been charged with eight counts of murder. Police say Robert Aaron Long told them he has a "sex addiction" and that the killings were not racially motivated. But many saw the violence as an attack on Asian Americans, who have been increasingly targeted during the coronavirus pandemic.
The president previously addressed the rise of attacks on Asian Americans in a speech on March 11, where he said, "Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated. At this very moment, so many of them — our fellow Americans — they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic, trying to save lives, and still — still — they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop."
Lawmakers, celebrities, activists and athletes have also spoken out against the attack.
"I’m angry. This is terrorism. This is a hate crime. Stop killing us," said comedian Margaret Cho.
"We’re not yet clear about the motive. But I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people," said Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman to hold the office.
NBA player Jeremy Lin said in a tweet, "To my Asian American family, please take time to grieve but know you're loved, seen and IMPORTANT. We have to keep standing up, speaking out, rallying together and fighting for change. We cannot lose hope!!"
A recent study conducted by the Stop AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islander) Hate Youth Campaign found that 1 in 4 young Asian Americans have personally experienced anti-Asian hate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"After March 10, when the president (Donald Trump) first used the phrase ‘Chinese virus’ in a tweet, Stop AAPI Hate saw an exponential increase in reported anti-Asian hate incidents," according to the study.
The study, supported by the Jeremy Lin Foundation, consisted of interviewing 990 young adults and observing 2,499 reported anti-Asian hate cases across the United States involving people who experienced some type of discrimination whether it was verbal harassment, shunning or cyberbullying.
Asian American lawmakers have expressed heartbreak on social media and emphasized the need to support Asian American communities during this time. The official Twitter account of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus wrote that its members are "horrified by the news ... at a time when we're already seeing a spike in anti-Asian violence."
Many lawmakers have also acknowledged a heightened sense of fear among Asian Americans as a result of the increasing number of hate incidents.
Rep. Judy Chu of California reminded people of the effect of anti-Asian rhetoric.
"As we wait for more details to emerge, I ask everyone to remember that hurtful words and rhetoric have real life consequences," she wrote on Twitter. "Please stand up, condemn this violence, and help us #StopAsianHate."
As racist incidents increased during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, various lawmakers and civil rights leaders condemned former president Donald Trump for his references to the coronavirus as "The Chinese Virus."
Last year, Chu called out Trump saying, "We have already seen Asian Americans who have been treated with insults, dirty looks, those been refused hotel rooms, and even assaults. As President of the United States, he should take an active role in uniting all of us because it is clear it is not a virus that belongs to China nor any other country, it is a global pandemic."
A campaign called "Wash the Hate" was launched by IW Group in Los Angeles during the onset of the pandemic to try to combat racism amid coronavirus fears.
Nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based reporting center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and its partner advocacy groups, since March 2020. Nationally, women reported more than double the number of hate incidents compared with men.
Police in several major cities saw a sharp uptick in Asian-targeted hate crimes between 2019 and 2020, according to data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. New York City went from three incidents to 27, Los Angeles from seven to 15, and Denver had three incidents in 2020 — the first reported there in six years.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. Catherine Park and the Associated Press contributed.