Hundreds demonstrate against anti-Asian violence after spa workers killed in Atlanta

·2-min read

Hundreds of people have gathered in Atlanta to support the Asian American community after six Asian women were killed in three spas in the city.

In total, eight people were shot dead in Cherokee and Fulcon County on Tuesday.

A man accused of the crimes, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, told police he had a sex addiction and was trying to eliminate the temptation he thought the businesses posed, authorities said. The 21-year-old has been arrested and charged.

The shootings followed a year of increasing anti-Asian violence.

Community leaders say Asian Americans are being blamed for COVID-19, which was first found in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met Asian American leaders in Georgia on Friday to express their condolences.

Mr Biden said it had been "heart-wrenching" listening to stories of fear among Asian Americans and Pacific islanders.

"We have to change our hearts," he said. "Hate can have no safe harbour in America."

On Saturday, crowds of people wearing masks and waving American flags stood in front of the Georgia State Capitol building carrying posters that read "we are not the virus" and "Stop Asian Hate".

Two Democratic senators elected in January, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, were at the rally and led the demonstrators in a moment of silence.

"We gather today to honour and remember those who lost their lives and to demand justice," Senator Ossoff said.

"Let us build a state and a nation where no one lives in fear because of who they are or where they or their family come from."

Hyun Jung Grant was among those killed at Gold Spa in Atlanta. Her son, Randy Park, has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for him and his brother. The rest of their family is in South Korea.

"She was a single mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for my brother and I," Randy Park wrote.

Since Tuesday, mourners have been placing bouquets and candles outside the spas where the victims were killed.