President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday called for an end to anti-Asian violence in the United States after meeting with leaders of the Asian-American community in Atlanta following the spa shoots who killed eight.
“There are just a few core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans,” President Biden said in an address to Emory University in Atlanta.
“One of them is united as Americans. One of them is fighting against hate, against racism, ”Biden said.
Biden has linked the Atlanta shootings to a wider wave of anti-Asian attacks that increased during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. At the same time, the US president issued a confidence note marking the distribution of 100 million doses of vaccine under his administration and the enactment of a $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
“Too many Asian Americans walk the streets worrying, waking up every morning this year fearing for their safety, the safety of those close to them,” Biden said.
“They have been attacked, blamed, scapegoats, harassed. They were verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed, ”he said.
Police charged a 21-year-old man with murder in the murders. The authorities now have published all the names of the victims. Seven of those killed were women and six of them were of Asian descent.
Law enforcement officials said the suspect, an Atlanta-area resident who is white, suggested frustration with the sex addiction drove him to commit the shooting.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris privately met with leaders of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community and Georgian politicians to hear concerns about the killings which sent shock waves across the Asian American community.
Among the participants were Stephanie Cho, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Victoria Huynh, Vice President, Center for Pan Asian Community Services, and Bianca Jyotishi, Georgia, organizer of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have seen an increase in incidents of physical assault, racial slurs and verbal abuse. Stop AAPI Hate, a group formed to fight the rise in attacks during the pandemic, said it had documented more than 2,800 first-hand accounts of anti-Asian hate in 2020.
Biden supported the COVID-19 hate crimes legislation presented to Congress on March 11 by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Grace Meng on Friday.
The bill would direct the US Department of Justice to focus on hate crimes against Asians and establish better reporting of these crimes as well as a public education campaign.
Biden had issued an executive order during his first week in office asking federal agencies to tackle anti-Asian hatred resulting from the pandemic.
Statements by former President Donald Trump calling the coronavirus a “Chinese virus” or “Kung flu” have perpetuated the stigma against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to intimidation, to harassment and hate crimes, according to the Biden order.
The president’s visit to Atlanta was previously scheduled and originally designed to promote the progress of the Biden administration in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden announced the delivery of 100 million vaccines on the 58th day of his presidency. A pledge he made following the 2020 election was to deliver 100 million vaccines within the first 100 days of his presidency.
The president and vice president visited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, based in Atlanta, where the president thanked scientists for their work in combating the virus. Trump had sidelined the CDC in the early months of the pandemic.
Georgia, meanwhile, has become an important state for Biden after his unlikely 2020 presidential victory and the successes of two Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate.
Biden and Harris were scheduled to meet with Stacey Abrams, one of Georgia’s leading suffrage advocates, where Republicans in the state legislature are proposing new laws to curtail voting in the state.
Biden stumbled Friday, climb the stairs to board Air Force One for a flight to Atlanta. The 78-year-old president tripped three times halfway down the stairs. A White House spokesman told reporters traveling with the president that he was fine and did not need medical attention.