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People across the country gathered on Saturday for vigils and protests to fight the surging violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, following last week’s fatal shootings at Atlanta-based spas. The incident left eight people dead, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
The Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds of demonstrators met near the Georgia State Capitol, brandishing signs that read “Stop Asian Hate” and waving American flags in the air. Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Times Square to march to Manhattan’s Chinatown—and elsewhere, hundreds convened for a vigil in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, wearing white and holding candles for the Atlanta victims.
Demonstrations took place in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. Sandra Oh joined Pittsburgh’s protest, telling NBC affiliate WXPI that she’s “proud to be Asian.” She continued, “For many of us in our community, this is the first time we are able to voice our fear and anger, and I am so grateful for everyone willing to listen.”
The shooter, Robert Aaron Long was arrested and charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. Given the fact that six of the eight victims were Asian, many are also calling for him to be charged with hate crimes.
New York City police and government officials have said hate crimes against Asian Americans have spiked since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from Stop AAPI, over the past year, there have been almost 3,800 incidents against people of Asian descent. Women comprise a larger number of the reports at 68 percent, while men make up 29 percent.
On Wednesday, a 76-year-old woman, Xiao Zhen Xie was attacked in San Francisco. She endured two black eyes, but it looks like she fought back against her assaulter.
Demonstrations are continuing to take place on Sunday, which you can check out below.