As the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings approaches, Asian American communities have begun gathering in remembrance.
The shootings, which took place at three Atlanta-area spas on March 16, 2021, killed eight people, including six Asian women: Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54; Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.
The shooter, then-21-year-old Robert Aaron Long claimed to have seen the spas as sources of sexual temptation and wanted to eliminate the threat. Authorities claimed the shootings were motivated by his sex addiction but denied that they were racially motivated, sparking outrage amongst Asian Americans.
On Saturday, nearly 200 people gathered near the Young Girls Peace Monument in Brookhaven, Georgia, to remember the victims of the shooting, NPR reports.
“The atmosphere is a broad range of emotion right now,” Long Tran, a business owner who is running for state representative in Georgia told NPR at the event.
The rally was hosted by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and Asian American Advocacy Fund, USA Today reports. Robert Peterson, the son of one of the victims, Yong Yue, spoke at the rally.
“My mom was more than her ethnicity, she was more than her job and she was more than the way she was killed,” Peterson said, according to USA Today. “Someone said this pain would go away. But to be honest, it has not.”
AAJA-Atlanta say they want to leave March 16 as a quiet day of remembrance.
“We wanted to leave the actual day, March 16, as a quieter day of reflection. … We wanted to provide space for the families to grieve in whatever way they wanted to,” Phi Nguyen, the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Atlanta, told NPR.
Other organizations, however, will host rallies that Wednesday. A larger rally addressing anti-Asian hate and violence called “Break the Silence” will be held in Atlanta on March 16. There are also rallies planned in major cities like San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C.
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