Washington, D.C. — Last night, an armed gunman killed eight people and wounded several more at multiple businesses in the metro Atlanta area. Six of the victims were Asian, and all but one of the victims were women. In response, Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
While much is still unknown about what transpired in Atlanta yesterday, initial reporting points to three elements that, at a minimum, warrant further investigation: the continued prevalence of gun violence, the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, and the increase in gender-based brutality, especially against women of color.
The past year has seen a troubling surge in violence against women, both domestically and around the world, as many communities grapple with the effects of the global pandemic. What we know is that we need more resources—from shelters to experienced counselors and health professionals as well as other support—on the ground to help those who are most at risk. We must also confront head-on the reality that women of color are too often targets of violence and dehumanized because of entrenched biases rooted in race, gender, and ethnic prejudice. We have an obligation to unearth what happened here and act to ensure that women of color get the protection they deserve, and that includes the long overdue reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Hate crimes directed toward Asian Americans have skyrocketed in the past year, led in part by irresponsible comments from the former president and his political allies, who have gone out of their way to falsely and maliciously blame the COVID-19 pandemic on the Asian American community. Violent extremism overall has risen steadily and unabated over the past decade. Tuesday’s horrific mass shooting in Georgia is a tragically predictable result of the growing incitement to violence by individuals motivated by hate.
Unfortunately, firearms are used far too often to perpetrate hate-motivated violence. From 2010 to 2019, an estimated 92,000 hate crimes involved the use of a gun. In addition to taking urgent action to address hate crimes in this country, we need action to address deadly gaps in our nation’s gun laws that allow violent extremists to have easy access to guns.
Law enforcement must deploy all the tools at their disposal to conduct the investigation thoroughly and with these three concerns in mind, as well as with the cultural sensitivity and awareness necessary to garner the trust and confidence of the community.