ATLANTA - Crowds gathered before the Georgia State Capitol on Saturday to protest violence and crimes targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community days after eight died in mass shootings at three Atlanta-area spas.
A Facebook event called "Stop Asian Hat ATL March and Rally" was set for 1 p.m. at Liberty Plaza.
The event group showed 408 people had responded, but local public figures shared the event on social media. Hundreds were in attendence with varying ages and racial backgrounds.
Chanting rang out at the plaza by about 1:30 p.m. as the crowd had already grown sizeable. Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House, voiced her skepticism about the suspected shooter's alleged "sex addiction," which he said motivated him to kill people at the spas he allegedly frequented.
"A 21-year-old white man targeted three Asain businesses, driving 40 minutes from one spa to another passing other adult entertainment businesses," Nguyen said. "This was an attack on the Asain community."
Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock stood before a crowd at Liberty Plaza.
"I'm sick and tired about hearing about what happened with this sick and misguided person," Warnock said.
Mostly-masked marchers held signs that read "Stop Asian Hate" and "We had nothing to do with COVID. Protect Asian elders."
At approximately 2:35 p.m. the crowd began marching toward CNN Center.
Similar demonstrations have occurred across the county.
In Pittsburgh, hundreds also rallied, and videos posted to social media showed former Grey’s Anatomy actress and Golden Globe Award winner Sandra Oh speaking to the crowd.
Hundreds reportedly marched in separate demonstrations in Chicago, New York City and San Francisco.
Context of Atlanta-area spa shootings
Officials said the shooting suspect, Robert Long, confessed to the murders and told Cherokee County Sheriff's Office investigators he has a "sex addiction" and the attack was not racially motivated.
Members of the AAPI community have remarked that the context of the shootings amid a rise in crimes against Asian Americans cannot be ignored. Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders says there have been almost 2,800 reported incidents between March of last year and the end of last month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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