Eight people are dead following shootings at three Atlanta-area spas. Six of the victims were identified as Asian American women, raising concerns that the murders were racially motivated.
The first shooting took place shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16 at Young’s Asian Massage located in Woodstock, Georgia, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta.
The individuals killed have been identified as Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan and Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Ae Yue.
A GoFundMe has been made for Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, the only surviving victim of the attacks. He is reportedly in intensive care after being shot in the forehead, lungs and stomach.
Authorities arrested a suspect, 21-year-old, Robert Aaron Long. According to the agency, the FBI was “assisting the local investigations.”
Long was a customer of at least two of the massage parlors he attacked. Capt. Jay Baker of Cherokee County brought to light the murderer’s self-described “sex addiction,” and his claim that the attacks were not linked to racial motivations.
Baker faced criticism for appearing to sympathize with Long, stating that the attacks had been the result of “a really bad day for him.”
Long has been charged with eight counts of murder as well as one count of aggregated assault. He is being held at the Cherokee County jail.
Anti-Asian hate crimes continue to be on the rise in the United States, the UK and Australia. Tensions rose as politicians – most infamously former president Donald Trump – placed blame for the COVID-19 outbreak on China.
According to the research forum Stop AAPI Hate, there were nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents – including shunning, slurs and physical attacks – reported over the past year. At 68 percent, women make up the majority of the reports.
Growing up Asian-American, Kristina Her (’22) has often felt surrounded by racism. Her serves as the president of the Chinese club and was president of the International club for two years. She is also currently working on an Anti-Asian debrief panel with faculty members from the college.
The first time Her remembers experiencing racism was when she was in the first grade. In high school, Her noticed that her teachers were quick to insinuate her good grades were due to her race, rather than her studying habits.
Over the years, Her noticed how often her friends would joke that she was “rich” or “perfect.” “These stereotypes that seem inherently complimentary implied I do not struggle and live a perfect life,” Her said.
When Her first began her time at college, she wasn’t sure Alma was the best place for her, “Personally, I felt like Alma College did not offer anything for Asian students and was seriously considering transferring because I felt so alone.”
Her feels the best way to be an ally to the Asian community is by listening to your Asian friends and family, “Let them know you are aware what is going on [and] offer support … Give space and time for Asian Americans to mourn, to process everything that has happened [and] heal.”
“I advise you to become more self-aware of how you view Asian Americans,” Her said, “Do not wait for a person of color to teach you about white terrorism, Anti-Asian violence, xenophobia etc.”
Her’s next project is starting an Asian Student Union here at Alma. Her encourages anyone interested in joining to reach out to her. “To my fellow Asian students, do not allow others to minimize and invalidate your feelings,” Her said.
On March 24, Alma College President Jeff Abernathy sent out a statement via email in support of a message put out by the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and Women’s Issues Advisory Board.
“We must, as a country and as a community, condemn hate and violence against one another,” Abernathy said, going on to add “Every member of our community is valued, and I am committed to ensuring Alma College is a welcome and safe place for all.”