South Asian-American non-profit condemns Atlanta shooting deaths

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A vigil and march to remember and honor the eight lives lost Tuesday in Atlanta, Ga., takes place in the Chinatown area of the District of Columbia on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post

South Asian Americans Leading Together, SAALT, a non-profit which advocates for people from that subcontinent, condemned the March 16, 2021, killing of 8 people in Atlanta, six of them Korean-American women, by a white man.

“This attack is the worst possible outcome of the rise in coronavirus-driven anti-Asian hatred – another mass shooting rooted in white supremacy and goaded by politicians’ xenophobic rhetoric,” SAALT declared in a March 17 press release.

“The incident is a horrific peak in the bigotry we’ve all witnessed over the past year: once again, marginalized working-class immigrants are targeted at a time of global crisis…,” the organization said, a statement that also harkens back to the hate crimes and killings of Indian-Americans and others who looked like Middle Easterners, after 9/11.

“… once again, we witness our nation’s inability to recognize the dominance of gendered white supremacist violence and racism in all of its structures,” SAALT contended.

It strongly criticized the local Atlanta police for not categorizing the mass shooting as a hate crime.

Local law enforcement authorities have given the shooter’s explanation that he was a sex addict taking revenge on massage parlor.
“Still, local police are not categorizing this mass shooting as a hate crime, nor recognizing the significant role of both race and gender in the shaping of this tragedy,” SAALT said.

“But we must be clear: seven of the eight victims were women; six of the eight victims were Asian American. It is clear the shooter (who has cited “sexual deviance” as his motivation for murder) also had some bias in his targeting, whether explicit or implicit,” SAALT said.

The organization urged AAPIs to question the “embedded anti-Asian rhetoric” and white supremacy.

“Last night’s shooting can only be understood and approached as an act of race‑, class‑, and gender-based sexual violence,” SAALT said.

“Our role in this moment is to both remember the pain of our past community experiences with mass violence, and honor and move towards the point of healing and reparation,” SAALT said.

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