Anti-Asian Attacks in Atlanta

On March 16, eight people were killed by 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long at three different Atlanta-area massage parlors. Six of the eight people that were killed were Asian women, causing many to believe that this attack was racially motivated, but Long claimed it was because of a sex addiction.

According to authorities, Long said he lashed out at what he saw as a source of his temptation, but his motive is still under investigation.

“As much as I hate to say it, when I first heard about what had happened, I was disappointed, but I was not surprised,” said senior Krystelin Tirado, president of the Multicultural Club. “Too often are people of color targeted and murdered for no other reason than because of the way they look.”

Long was arrested soon after the shooting took place, and on Wednesday, March 17, he was charged with the crime.

According to The Associated Press, “The attack was the sixth mass killing this year in the U.S., and the deadliest since the August 2019 Dayton, Ohio, shooting that left nine people dead, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.”

“It was very sad to see that something terrible like this happened again,” said sophomore Chris Gallagher. “Whatever reason the person had for doing it, there’s no excuse for taking someone’s life, let alone so many lives, so senselessly, and I just hope to see a time when things like this no longer happen.”

These attacks not only devastated the families of the victims, but also, according to The Associated Press, hit the Asian community hard as they saw it as an attack on them. This coincides with the reported increase in targeted violence toward the Asian community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Things like this continue to happen because the leaders of this country have allowed us to become numb to them. When we hear of a mass shooting, most people, myself included, think, ‘Oh, another shooting,’” said Tirado. “There is no longer a shock factor attached to the attacks because they happen so often, especially toward marginalized groups.”

In regard to how hate crimes are viewed now in a legal sense, The Associated Press highlighted a law that was enacted last summer in Georgia, the state that this shooting took place in.

“‘It’s not something you get arrested for. It’s a sentence enhancer,’ said Pete Skandalakis, a former prosecutor and executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. “The law says an additional penalty can be applied for certain crimes if they are motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or mental or physical disability.”

Further information from the article by The Associated Press states that if the hate crime charge is applied to a case, there would be a mandatory enhancement of at least two years in prison as well as an additional fine of up to $5,000 for a felony.

As the country still recovers from this and other attacks, the media plays a big role.

“It is important that the media as a whole not view these occurrences as ‘hot stories’ and have some sympathy for the surviving family members, as well as respect for the deceased,” said Tirado. “The media has a ginormous influence on everything that goes on in the world, so it is important that standards be properly set.”

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