A gunman’s rampage that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in the Atlanta area this week has set off a new wave of fear and outrage among Asian-Americans, coming in a year of anti-Asian violence across the country, reports the New York Times. Robert Aaron Long was charged on Wednesday with eight counts of murder for the killings at three spas and told detectives that he had frequented massage parlors in the past and had carried out the attacks as a way to eliminate temptation. Investigators said they had not ruled out a racial motive, despite the 21-year-old white male suspect denying being driven by bigotry, as officials and community leaders insisted that it could not be ignored that most of the victims were of Asian descent.
“Racially motivated violence should be called out for exactly what it is and we must stop making excuses and rebranding it as economic anxiety or sexual addiction,” Representative Marilyn Strickland, a Democrat of Washington State, said on the floor of Congress on Wednesday. “As a woman who is Black and Korean I am acutely aware of how it feels to be erased or ignored.”