After a year filled with protests, violence and racism all of us were hoping to have a calmer 2021 where things would get better.
After the tragic Capitol Hill riot on January 6th, though, our nation witnessed another act of violence that might be potentially targeted towards a racial minority as well: the Atlanta shooting.
On Tuesday evening, eight people were shot to death near Atlanta inside three massage parlor, six of whom were of Asian origin. All victims except for one white male were women.
The first suspect was taken into custody shortly after the incident. Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old male from Woodstock, Ga., was captured based on security footage from one of the massage parlors showing a man near a Hyundai Tucson.
Robbery gone wrong?
So far, we still know very little about the motivation behind the shooting or those involved in this tragic event. However, the first police report labeled the incident as a robbery in progress, the 21-year-old being the main suspect.
Captain Jay Baker from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office declared that the first shooting took place in the northwest suburb of Atlanta Acworth, at the declared that the first shooting took place in the northwest suburb of Atlanta Acworth, at the Young’s Asian Massage. The incident was reported at 5 p.m. and a Hispanic man was found injured at the scene.
According to the Atlanta police, it was 5:47 p.m. when they received a call for robbery at Gold Spa (the second shooting); at the scene, three women were found shot fatally. Police officers had just arrived at the scene when they received a new report of shots being fired at the Aromatherapy Spa. There, another body was found.
Gregory and Debra Welch, two residents of the Piedmont Heights area, claimed that it was strangely quiet that night; the area is reportedly known as the ‘red-light district’ of the community with a strip club, a tattoo shop and a second massage parlor all being in the vicinity.
A new racial dispute
Authorities didn’t release any statements regarding the possibility of this being a racial attack. However, many public figures and institutions including Stop AAPI Hate, an organization created to stop and prevent Asian discrimination caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group released a public message referring to the shooting as ‘an unspeakable tragedy’ for the victims and the Asian-American communities which, according to them, ‘has been reeling from high levels of racist attacks.’
Data from Stop AAPI Hate also claims that there have been 3,800 reports of racial incidents targeted at Asian-American communities since the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As the news became viral, more and more citizens are concerned about another series of attacks towards minorities across the country.
The police might agree on this. Shortly after the incident, the counterterrorism bureau of the New York Police Department tweeted the following:
#NYPDCT is monitoring the shooting of Asian Americans in Georgia. While there is no known nexus to #NYC we will be deploying assets to our great Asian communities across the city out of an abundance of caution. #SeeSomethingSaySomething pic.twitter.com/Vl87DPRR8m
— NYPDCounterterrorism (@NYPDCT) March 17, 2021
Additionally, the Seattle Police Department declared that they will offer full support to the local Asian-American communities while increasing patrols in the area. Almost 8% of the residents in Fulton County (Atlanta included) are of Asian origins.
Georgian Senator Raphael Warnock also tweeted a heartwarming message for his local community insisting on the negative impact of racism:
My heart is broken tonight after the tragic violence in Atlanta that took eight lives. Once again we see that hate is deadly. Praying for the families of the victims and for peace for the community.
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) March 17, 2021
Although the Atlanta police didn’t require local massage parlors to shut down after the incident, multiple managers have chosen to take this measure to keep their employees safe. One woman working at the Healing Massage Spa, for instance, reported that her boss immediately told her to close at least for one night.
As more and more information regarding this incident surfaces, people are once again on the edge for the same reason which has led to the Black Lives Matter movement last year: racism.