Note: A previous version of this statement listed the names and ages of the victims of this attack. It has since been announced that the families of the victims have requested that their names not be shared in order to protect their privacy. In an effort to respect their wishes, the AEU has removed their names from this statement.
The hearts of Ethical Society members are with the victims of the heinous attack on March 17 by a white man at three spas in the Atlanta area, who killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent. The police have identified four people who were victims of the attack on Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County and four who were victims from the attack on the Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa. We stand in solidarity with the victims, their families, and the wider community of people whose vulnerability in this climate of hate was highlighted by this shooting and the increase in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The shootings come at a moment of increasing harassment and hate crimes against the Asian-American community. Violence against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) has been rising for years, stoked more recently by falsely blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic. The Atlanta shooting at three separate Asian-identified massage parlors follows nearly 3800 cases of Anti-Asian hate incidents reported in the past year alone. We call on members of Ethical Societies, friends and community members to stand against anti-AAPI violence and to center the experiences of Asian women in this moment.
We are especially horrified at this mass shooting because, in targeting vulnerable working class Asian women, the forces of white supremacy, anti-AAPI hate, and xenophobia have joined with misogyny and a history of labor exploitation. We applaud House Democrats for holding a Congressional hearing on the dangerous uptick in anti-Asian violence and discrimination, and hope to see the continuation of public discourse on the issue.
We condemn the police response which quickly minimized the murders on the basis of having a “bad day” or being the result of a sex addiction. This response is especially fraught considering news that the officer who delivered it has posed with home-made anti-Asian propaganda in the past, and has posted anti-Asian opinions on Facebook. Excuses for the shooter’s behavior ignore the humanity of the victims, rely on the shooter to decide the narrative, and contort the nexus of responsibility. The responsibility is on the person who made the choice to commit a mass shooting and on those who primed that person to blame and then shoot particular people.
We call on allies against white supremacy and misogyny to support Asian-led organizations that work to counter this rising tide of anti-AAPI violence and hate, and especially ones that center Asian women. Two examples are the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. Other groups working against anti-AAPI violence and hate, centering AAPI leadership, include Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.
A fund for victims and their families can be found here: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/support-georgias-asian-american-community/