Democrats, Mourning Atlanta Spa Shootings, Focus on Anti-Asian Hate Crime

Prominent Democrats have reacted with anger and sadness to the deaths in Atlanta, Georgia overnight and linked the deadly shootings in the city to white supremacy and racial hatred.

A man is in custody following shootings at three Atlanta spas that left at least eight people dead. Some of the victims have been identified as being women of Asian descent.

Local police have said 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long is the suspect in all three shootings but the potential motivation for the killings is not yet clear. Many Democrats on social media saw a racial element.

"According to this report, 6 of the 8 murder victims in the Atlanta area mass shooting are Asian women," tweeted Representative Ted Lieu of California, sharing an article about the incidents.

"Was this a hate crime? We need more evidence. But we do know the alleged murderer targeted three locations where the victims would disproportionately be Asian women."

"The former President used racist phrases like Kung Flu that inflamed discrimination against the Asian American community," Lieu later added. "Officials that continue to use ethnic identifiers in describing the virus are part of the problem. Please instead be a part of the solution. #StopAsianHate."

"8 People Murdered. Words have power. #StopAsianHate," wrote Representative Nikema Williams, who serves Georgia's 5th congressional district and is chair of the Georgia Democrats.

"An attack on our Asian American neighbors is an attack on us all, and will not go ignored or unanswered. Georgia Democrats stand in solidarity with our AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community and will fight for true accountability for this violence," Williams added in a statement.

"My heart is broken tonight after the tragic violence in Atlanta that took eight lives. Once again we see that hate is deadly," said Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia. "Praying for the families of the victims and for peace for the community."

"My heart breaks to see this tragic news. AAPI Americans are once again being targeted, harassed, attacked, and killed in Georgia and communities across America," tweeted Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington's 7th district. "We must do everything we can to end this violence while organizing together against hate, gun violence, and bigotry."

Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan's 13th district and Representative Katie Porter of California's 45th district were also clear in linking the shootings to hate crime.

"Hate crimes towards Asian Americans has increased by 150%," Tlaib said. "This must stop. We must stop it by having zero tolerance for white supremacy in our country. Hate has no place here."

"With anti-Asian hate crimes on the rise across the country, this needs a swift and thorough investigation. #StopAAPIHate," Porter tweeted.

Representative Judy Chu, who serves California's 27th congressional district and belongs to the AAPI community, said she was "utterly devastated" by the deaths.

"[Six] of these victims are Asian American women," Chu said. "Our community has been facing a retlentless [sic] increase in attacks and harassment over the past year.

"As we wait for more details to emerge, I ask everyone to remember that hurtful words and rhetoric have real life consequences. Please stand up, condemn this violence, and help us #StopAsianHate."

"I'm so tired of hatred and racism," said Charles Booker, a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives. "Our hearts have been broken over and over again, and this devastating shooting in Atlanta is just another crushing blow. I pray for the families who have lost what can never be replaced, but we shouldn't have to keep praying this prayer."

A Police Officer on the Scene
A police officer stands outside a massage parlor where three people were shot and killed on March 16, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. Democrats have condemned the shootings and suggested they may be a hate crime. ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images