CIERRA BYRD WRITES— Many Asian Americans gathered on March 15th to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the lives lost in the Georgia spa shootings, in which eight people were killed, six of them Asian women.
The family of the victims spoke at the March 15th protest alongside many other people, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
On this same date, protests occurred in many other cities such as Houston, San Francisco, and Detroit, to spread awareness regarding violence towards people of Asian descent. Pelosi stated, “The AAPI community has long been subject to the evil of bigoted violence, a crisis that has surged during the pandemic.” She went on to say that “more than 11,000 acts of anti – AAPI violence have been reported since March 2020. This is why with the COVID hate crimes act, Congress took historic action to help stamp out hate and hold offenders accountable”.
The protest on March 15th was underscored because just a day after, a woman was brutally beaten in New York. A man was indicted for attempted murder when footage was found of him punching a 67-year-old woman of Asian descent more than 50 times and screaming a racial slur. At the Atlanta rally, Stacey Abrams, an African American woman and Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, made a connection between the discrimination historically faced by Asian Americans and Black people, whose rights were restricted under Jim Crow laws of the 1960s. She said, “My father grew up in the Jim Crow South. What happened here was an echo of that. We are all here because we must remember. We must tell Asian stories because those are the stories of America.”
The struggle is not only for the racism behind the shooting, but the blindness of other social forces. At the time of the shooting, police came out with a statement claiming that the gunman’s motive was due to a “sex addiction”. Many supporters agreed that the police were completely blind to racial bias.
It is important that we continue to honor the victims whose innocent lives were taken: Paul Andre Michels, who was there for a last minute appointment; Delaina Ashley Yaun, who was there for a couples massage; Daoyou Feng, one of the massage therapists; Yong Ae Yue, a newer therapist; Xiaojie Tan, the owner of the spa; Hyun Jung Grant, also a massage therapist at the spa; Suncha Kim, another employee of the spa; and Soon Chung Park, a food vendor for the employees. We must never forget how they died, and do our best to prevent another such tragedy.