Lawmakers visit Atlanta-area spas to pay tribute to victims of attacks that killed eight people, including six Asian women.
A U.S. lawmaker calls on authorities to lay hate crimes charges in connection with the deadly assault on Atlanta-area spas this month, as a group of lawmakers traveled to the U.S. city to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting.
Eight people, including six women of Asian origin, were killed during the attacks of March 16 on three separate spas.
The murders sent shockwaves across the country and fueled the fears of Asian Americans, who have seen an increase in hatred and acts of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
US Congresswoman Judy Chu, a Democrat from California, said on Sunday that the gunman had chosen three Asian spas “where there was a certainty that if he shot at it he would kill Asian women.”
“And so for us it’s clear that this is a hate crime,” she said in an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press show.
“But what concerns us is whether local law enforcement will actually prosecute this as a hate crime. That is why we are asking the Department of Justice to ensure that there are the necessary resources to provide the evidence to establish that this is a hate crime.
– Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) March 28, 2021
Chu was among a group of lawmakers who visited spas on Sunday to pay tribute to the victims.
Experts said a hate crime conviction in the case would be more complicated than simply convicting the murder suspect, however, because prosecutors will need to prove his intention.
Meanwhile, several protests have taken place across the country over the past two weeks to demand an end to anti-Asian hatred.
Anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in 16 of America’s largest cities rose 145% in 2020, according to preliminary data released this month by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
But experts said most hate crimes go unreported.
“We know there is underreporting due to the fear of our Asian-American community. Nonetheless, I want to send the message to everyone that they have to report it, ”Chu said on Sunday.
Our Route: Meet at Young’s Asian Massage, then drive 27 miles to Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa, following the murderer’s route to show how far he had to go to deliberately target Asian women. #StopAsianHate
– Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) March 28, 2021
US Congressman Mark Takano, who also attended the Atlanta-area spa tour on Sunday, said the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community was “suffering” as a result of the attacks.
The route taken by the legislators symbolized “how far [the shooter] had to travel to deliberately target Asian women, ”Takano said.