President Biden and Vice President Harris travel to Atlanta today, where they will meet with local politicians and representatives of the Asian American community to discuss the rising number of violent attacks against Asian Americans.
The trip was originally intended to boost support for the $1.9 trillion-dollar Covid relief bill, which passed earlier this month. However, the Biden team cancelled plans for a Saturday night rally following this week’s attack on three spas which left eight people dead, six of them Asian women.
“Given the tragedy in Georgia Tuesday night, President Biden and Vice President Harris will postpone the evening political event in Georgia for a future day,” officials announced in a release, the New York Times has reported. “During their trip to Atlanta, they will instead meet with Asian American leaders to discuss the ongoing attacks and threats against the community, meet with other local leaders, and also visit the Centers for Disease Control to receive an update from the team of health and medical experts helping lead the fight against the pandemic.”
Neither Biden nor authorities have referred to Tuesday’s attack as a hate crime, although many see it as part of a pattern of growing violence directed toward Asian Americans. In a statement released on Wednesday, the advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta attributed the rise in violence to the rhetoric of former president Trump and his allies.
“That the Asian women murdered [Tuesday] were working highly vulnerable and low-wage jobs during an ongoing pandemic speaks directly to the compounding impacts of misogyny, structural violence, and white supremacy,” said Phi Nguyen, Litigation Director for the organization.
While neither Biden nor Harris have yet to attribute a motive to the shooter responsible for Tuesday’s attacks — waiting, instead, for an official investigation to reach its conclusion — each has spoken out against anti-Asian American violence. Harris, the first Vice President of Asian descent, expressed sympathy for the victims’ families, saying, “Our prayers are extended to the families of those who have been killed, and it speaks to a larger issue, which is the issue of violence in our country and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it.”
All eight victims of Tuesday’s attack have been identified. They are Delaina Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Soon C. Park, 74; Hyun J. Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong A. Yue, 63. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, who was also wounded, survived the attack.
This story has been updated to reflect the names of the victims.