President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with a contingent of Asian American leaders when they visit Atlanta on Friday following the shooting deaths of eight people — six of whom were Asian women — despite police announcing the shooting was not motivated by race.
Biden and Harris will talk with state lawmakers and community advocates in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to discuss the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes that have multiplied during the pandemic, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, citing the White House.
The two leaders had planned to visit the city as part of their “Help is Here” tour to tout the president’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package before the attack on three spas Tuesday in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested and charged with murder.
He admitted to carrying out the shooting spree during interviews with police, but has not indicated that they were racially motivated.
Hate crimes could still be charged, despite Long admitting the killing spree was linked to his sex addiction, and that his intention was to “eliminate” temptation.
“He has an issue that he considers a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places,” said Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, without elaborating further on what pushed Long, 21, over the edge. “It’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
Biden, speaking at the White House on Wednesday, said Asian Americans are “very concerned” with the shootings at the massage parlors.
“Whatever the motivation here, I know that Asian Americans are very concerned,” Biden told reporters. “I’m making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer.”
Harris also addressed the slayings.
“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.