The Western Environmental Law Center is appalled at the murder in Atlanta of one man and seven women, six of them Asian-American. This case appears clearly motivated by anti-Asian racism and misogyny. The case also appears clearly fueled by anti-Asian slurs from political leaders regarding COVID-19. Because of this, Asian people and communities in the U.S. have been unfairly targeted with racist assaults and harassment and have suffered greatly.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jay Baker showed more sympathy for the gunman than for the victims when he said of the killer: “He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.” Capt. Baker’s Facebook activity, reposting a meme about “CHY-NA” and COVID-19, raises a giant red flag about Capt. Baker’s own likely racism against Asian people.

When the only witness to the killings English-speaking media quote is the killer himself, that frames the murders in his terms. He says these murders were not hate crimes. However, Korean-language media have reported that witnesses heard the shooter exclaim “I’m going to kill (all) Asians.” To address the wave of racial violence and harassment at hand, committed primarily by an English-speaking population, English-language media must do better.

WELC stands with Asian communities and relays this message: This abhorrent treatment is beyond unjust. Not just the murders, but the harassment and different treatment as well. You belong as valued, integral parts of the fabric of our communities.

Anti-Asian bias, racism, and misogyny, conscious or not, must stop.

The names of the victims must not be lost as we struggle to make sense of everything. The names of the known victims are: Soon C. Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong A. Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. Rest in peace. Let there be justice.

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