Across the country, from California to New York, hundreds have marched united against anti-Asian hate and held vigils to remember the Atlanta shooting victims.
"The reality is that this could have been me or my sister or my family," says Umi Akiyoshi.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Asian American community has been faced with discrimination and attacks and often blamed for the pandemic. What happened in Atlanta has galvanized people.
"It's hard to go through something like this and just be by yourself," says one of the Asian American vigil attendees.
Asian American advocacy groups are calling the shooting by a White male gunman a hate crime because of the eight victims killed, a majority of them were Asian women. Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of advocacy group Asian American Federation, said, "He could have gone to any spa but he chose the Asian American Spas and he chose to kill Asian American workers."
FBI Director Christopher Wray says the shootings don’t appear to be racially motivated, though the case is still under investigation.
"There's no hate crime there? You gotta be kidding! And then for the sheriff's department's office to say the killer had a bad day? The killer had a bad day? Those eight people had bad days! This is outrageous!," said Democratic State Sen. John Liu of New York.
Senator Tammy Duckworthhas asked Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland to look into whether hate crimes against Asian Asian Americans are underreported. On Face The Nation she said, "I wanna see a deeper investigation into whether or not these shootings and other similar crimes are racially motivated. It looks racially motivated to me.
Activists have seen a rise in Asian attacks. Reporting center Stop AAPI Hate recorded nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents since the start of the pandemic, 68% of them were women.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, whose mother is from India, met with Asian American leaders in Atlanta days after the shooting. They acknowledged the ongoing surge of violence against Asian Americans and took a stand against racism and xenophobia.
"A harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. The president and I will not be silent," said Harris.
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