We’re closing down this live blog now. But this is where things stand:
•Asian American lawmakers have warned the community is in crisis, after a year of thousands of discriminatory attacks in the United States and a mass killing on Tuesday in three Atlanta-area spas.
•The eight victims killed in Tuesday’s attack included seven people of Asian descent, six of them women. “The Asian American community has reached a crisis point that cannot be ignored,” Rep Judy Chu told a hearing on discrimination and attacks against Asian Americans.
•Police said Robert Aaron Long “frequented” two of the Atlanta spas that were attacked. Charles Hampton, deputy chief of Atlanta police, could not confirm if the eight people killed were specifically targeted. “I will not say that, again I would just say that unfortunately they were at that location, I can’t say that he specifically targeted those individuals,” Hampton said.
•The Georgia sheriff’s captain who said Long was “having a really bad day” when he allegedly killed eight people was removed as a spokesperson on the case, according to the WSB-TV news channel. WSB-TV, reported that Capt Jay Baker “will no longer be spokesperson” on the shootings case.
Thanks for reading.
Georgia sheriff removed from shootings case over comments
The Georgia sheriff’s captain who said Robert Aaron Long was “having a really bad day” when he allegedly killed eight people has been removed as a spokesperson on the case, according to the WSB-TV news channel.
Nicole Carr, a journalist at WSB-TV, reported that Capt Jay Baker “will no longer be spokesperson” on the shootings case. According to Carr, the Cherokee County Sheriff department is also “evaluating what [Baker’s] future at the Sheriff’s Office looks like”.
Baker was widely criticized for his comments about Long, and faced further calls to resign when it emerged he had shared a racist post on Facebook.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Baker said investigators had interviewed Long that morning.
“They got that impression that yes, he understood the gravity of it. He was pretty much fed up, and kind of at [the] end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Baker said.
Later on Wednesday BuzzFeed News reported that in 2020, Baker shared an image of T-shirt with a logo that parodied Corona beer and read “Covid 19: imported virus from Chy-na”.
Charles Hampton, deputy chief of Atlanta police, said officers are “working diligently to ascertain all the facts” in the spa shootings.
“We had four Asian females that were killed, and so we are looking at everything to make sure we discover and determine what the motive of our homicides were,” Hampton said during a press conference.
Asked if the shootings were racially motivated, Hampton said:
“I don’t have a position. Like I said, I will only comment about our investigation,” Hampton said.
Again, we’re not prepared to talk a lot about what has been said because, again, we’re not trying to try the case in public. […] We try to remember that eight families are impacted by this.”
Suspect ‘frequented’ two of the spas attacked
The man charged with killing eight people at Atlanta-area spas frequented at least two of the spas targeted, police said.
In a press conference Charles Hampton, deputy chief of Atlanta police, said Robert Aaron Long “did frequent those two locations within Atlanta”.
Three people, all Asian women, were killed at Atlanta’s Gold Spa on Tuesday, one more person was killed at Aromatherapy Spa, across the street. Four more were killed at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor, on the outskirts of the city.
Asked if Long had targeted the individuals killed specifically, Hampton said:
“I will not say that, again I would just say that unfortunately they were at that location, I can’t say that he specifically targeted those individuals.”
Hampton added of Long:
“I’m not sure about any mental illness. All we do know is that he did purchase the gun the day of the incident.”
Family mourns shooting victim Paul Andre Michels
Michels, a handyman at Youngs Asian Massage, was among the eight killed.
John Michels, his 52-year-old brother, told the Guardian that Paul was a “very good man” who would help out anyone. “He was just a regular guy, very good-hearted, very soft-natured,” he said.
Paul, 54, was one of nine siblings, and the family grew up in Detroit, Michigan. “Even though we’re not biological twins, we were basically twins. We hung out and did endless everything together,” John Michels said, recalling their youth. “Our dad would take us to the lake every Sunday in the summertime.”
Though it is not yet known whether any of the victims of Tuesday’s shooting provided sexual services at their workplaces, the gunman told police that the spas he opened fire on represented a “temptation he wanted to eliminate”, suggesting that he at least believed that they did.
Reporting for the Guardian, Marie Solis spoke to advocates who said this reveals the way racism, sexism and anti-sex-work sentiment work together to produce anti-Asian violence:
“Even if they were providing non-sexual massages, this ends up being a sex work issue,” said Esther K, a co-director of Red Canary Song, a grassroots Chinese massage parlor worker coalition. “The women are de facto being seen as sex workers and being scapegoated as such.
“Removing the anti-sex-work component really removes the crux of what this specific kind of racism is about: the fetishization of Asian women’s bodies, the objectification of their bodies and the assumption that Asian women are obviously going to be providing sexual services at massage parlors,” she continued. “The conflation of massage parlors and sex workers without any nuance is very specific to anti-Asian racism against Asian women.”
Facebook is removing content celebrating the recent shootings in Atlanta that targeted Asian women, designating the attack as “a violating event” – one that has additional regulations on the platform.
Content that praises, supports, or represents the shooting or the suspect will be removed, Facebook told the Verge. It did not give any additional details about how much content has been actioned.
This is not the first time Facebook has made such a designation. It did the same in the January insurrection and in the aftermath of a shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020.
Both of those instances made clear how wide the gap can be between Facebook’s stated policies and its ability to enforce them. The platform struggled to remove posts glorifying or supporting the insurrection following the January 6 violence. Both of those violent events were planned extensively in Facebook events and groups.
Friends mourn shooting victim Delaina Ashley Yaun
Yaun, a 33-year-old mother of two, was one of the eight people to die in the shooting. A friend of Yaun’s described to the Guardian how Yaun had recently helped her family.
In a Facebook message, Rose Luce said after she lost her job due to the pandemic, Yaun “took me and my boyfriend along with my dog into her already full home because she cared about me”.
Luce said that while living with Yaun, she saw first-hand what a great mother, wife and daughter she was.
“Losing her will permanently affect this family and home. I’ve never seen such love in a family the way I see the love Delaina had for hers,” Luce said.
“Every day she would come home from work and hug her mother and kiss her baby girl with a giant smile on her face. She adored that beautiful baby girl with every part of her heart.”
At CNN, reporter Priya Krishnakumar has a big read on why poor, inconsistent data collection makes it impossible to know the scope of violence and harassment against Asians in the US.
The problems are numerous and include: the way data collection treats Asians as a monolith; victims of hate crimes are unlikely to report to the police; and law enforcement agencies aren’t required to submit hate crime data to the FBI. This is also why groups like Stop AAPI Hate have stepped in to do the count. More from the piece:
Not all communities have the same resources as New York or Los Angeles, creating a lopsided view of where crimes occur. Larger cities are more likely to have advocacy groups or more robust resources for victims who are hesitant to report to police.
“People are more likely to share with a community group than with law enforcement. So how do you handle that when there may not be community groups throughout the country?” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“The government is not actually set up with alternatives to law enforcement, which is what we really need to get at systemic racism in this country,” Kohli said.
In smaller cities or rural areas, that lack of resources can create a challenging feedback loop: When hate crimes are underreported, it becomes harder for advocates and civic leaders to make the case for more resources to address hate crimes.
Here’s a summary of today’s developments so far:
- Asian American lawmakers warned the community is in crisis after a year of thousands of discriminatory attacks in the United States and a mass killing on Tuesday in three Atlanta-area spas.
- The eight victims slayed in the attack included seven people of Asian descent and six women.
- “The Asian American community has reached a crisis point that cannot be ignored,” Representative Judy Chu told a House hearing on discrimination and attacks against Asian Americans.
- The FBI and other police forces are facing criticism for levels of reporting of hate crimes that remain abysmally low, despite several attempts by Congress to highlight the outrages.
- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris expanded a previously planned trip to visit health officials in Atlanta on Friday to include meetings with Asian American community leaders.
- Biden ordered US flags flown at half-staff as a show of respect for the victims and their families.
- Rallies unfolded across the country to protest acts of hatred against Asian Americans and express solidarity for victims of hate crimes, verbal abuse and other attacks.
Trevor Noah on the Atlanta shootings and anti-Asian racism: ‘We could see this coming’
On Wednesday, late-night hosts addressed the previous day’s killing of eight people, including six Asian women, by a 21-year-old white man who targeted Asian spas in Atlanta. “This is truly horrifying,” said Trevor Noah, a tragedy made even more painful by the police’s hesitance to say the crime was motivated by racism.
According to Georgia police, the shooter blamed his actions on “sex addiction” and was looking to take out “temptations”, an excuse for which Noah had zero patience. “Fuck you, man. You killed six Asian people. Specifically, you went there,” he said. “Your murders speak louder than your words.”
More technical difficulties at the House hearing. Delay number three now while they work it out.