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NACRJ Solidarity with the AAPI Community: Sadness, Grief, and Anger over Atlanta Shootings

Stop asian hate hand lettering and social media hashtag on speech bubble background. Human rights concept, anti-racism movement slogans.

March 16, 2021, was another tragic day marred by gun violence. In all, eight people were killed, and one person was seriously wounded during shootings by the same person at three separate massage businesses in Atlanta. The depth and enormity of the harm suffered by each victim and their families is truly heartbreaking.

The businesses attacked were owned/operated by Asian-American Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Six of those killed were AAPI women:

  • Soon Chung Park (74)
  • Hyun Jung Grant, (51)
  • Suncha Kim, (69)
  • Yong Ae Yue, (63)
  • Xiaojie Tan (49)
  • Daoyou Feng (44)

A maintenance worker (Paul Andre Michels, 54) and a customer (Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33) were also killed in the horrific shootings. Ms Yaun had scheduled a couples massage with her husband. As of this writing, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz (30) is in serious condition at an area hospital.

Investigators have yet to condemn these shootings as “hate crimes,” instead repeating the shooter’s disingenuous excuse that he was motivated by his “sex addiction” and “wanted to lessen his sexual temptations.” Intentionally selecting three massage businesses owned and operated by Asian-American Pacific Islanders speaks directly to the constant threat faced by AAPI women persistently identified and objectified as sex workers. It is glaringly apparent that the shooter did not choose to target massage businesses owned and operated by non-Asians, despite his “sex addiction.”

The shooter’s choice suggests racist and misogynistic attitudes and behavior. The desire for “a motive” should not blind investigators to the intersectional complexity AAPI women face daily.

NACRJ says their names to honor the victims and stand in solidarity with the AAPI community calling for an end to AAPI hate. We share their sadness, grief, and anger over such self-centered and senseless loss of life.

These murders are the latest in a significant surge of AAPI hate crimes in the last year that appear to be associated with the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic and wrongly blaming China for its impacts on the US. This has been exacerbated by scapegoating Asian people by referring to the virus as the “China virus” and other derisive slang. This language was a transparent diversion to avoid political responsibility in an election year.

NACRJ seeks a just and equitable society rooted in respect and dignity for all people. We yearn for and work toward a society free of misogyny, racism, dehumanization, systems of oppression, violence, and politically motivated scapegoating of vulnerable groups for policy failures or social problems.