President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to meet with Asian-American leaders in Atlanta today (March 19) following the tragedy that unfurled in the city earlier this week. Biden and Harris, who is the first Asian-American to serve as vice president, will reportedly discuss the nationwide spike in anti-Asian violence over the past year.
“During their trip to Atlanta, they will instead meet with Asian-American leaders to discuss the ongoing attacks and threats against the community,” a White House official said.
Vice President Harris condemned the shootings and violence against Asian-Americans earlier this week.
“This speaks to a larger issue, which is the issue of violence in our country and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it,” she said. “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.”
On Thursday (March 18), Biden also ordered American flags to be flown at half-mast as a tribute to the shootings’ eight victims.
The shootings at three massage parlors in Atlanta and Acworth, Georgia; which took the lives of six Asian women, arrive at a time of heightened attacks against Asian-Americans. At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Asian-American lawmakers warned that the U.S. has reached a “crisis point” in the uptake in violence.
Authorities have not ruled a motive in the tragedy yet. Suspect Robert Aaron Long claimed to investigators that the shootings were not racially motivated and instead said he has a sex addiction and saw the spas as “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”