At least eight killed in multiple shootings at Asian massage spas in Atlanta area, USA - 16 Mar 2021
Photo by ERIK S LESSER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11803032c) Atlanta Police Department officers investigate the scene of a shooting outside a spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 16 March 2021. At least eight people were reported dead following a string of shootings at three metro Atlanta massage parlors. At least eight killed in multiple shootings at Asian massage spas in Atlanta area, USA - 16 Mar 2021

Police Officer Who Tried To Whitewash and Downplay Atlanta Shooting as a ‘Bad Day’ Turns Out To Be a Racist

Capt. Jay Baker of Cherokee county in Atlanta, Georgia appears to be having a “bad day” as well. After 21-year-old white domestic terrorist Robert Aaron Long went on a massacre in the Atlanta area, visiting three Asian spas and murdering eight people — six of whom were Asian women — Baker spoke at a news conference saying the authorities were not treating the killings as a hate crime, but rather a situation where the gunman was dealing with a “sex addiction” who was at the “end of his rope” and having a “really bad day.”

Beyond being tone-deaf, many condemned Baker’s reductive assessment as whitewashing and centering the suspect’s admission over the actual witnesses of the murders. Many also criticized the decision to not treat the murders as racially-motivated, saying it ignores the history of objectification Asian women face in the United States and globally — the insidious legacies of colonialism and Western military conquest.

“It doesn’t require admission of a hate crime by the suspect in custody to determine if this is, in fact, a hate crime. Three Asian businesses, six Asian women killed, the sexualization and dehumanization of Asian women — that cannot be overlooked,” Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve on Georgia’s House of Representatives said on Twitter, further adding that the shooting was at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia.”

 

“The fetishization and hyper-sexualization of Asian women is dangerous and reinforces harmful stereotypes,” said New York State Assembly Member, Yuh-Line Niou. “Stereotypes like these cause violence against Asian women to be overlooked, erased and legitimized.”

 

To add insult to injury, an investigation from BuzzFeed News uncovered a Facebook post by Baker from April 2020, where he glowed about purchasing a racist T-shirt that said “Covid 19: Imported Virus from Chy-na [sic].” Since the publication of BuzzFeed’s article, the formerly public Facebook post has since become hidden or removed.

 

Jay Baker's Facebook post from April 2020.
Jay Baker’s Facebook post from April 2020.

According to a report published on Tuesday, March 16 from Stop AAPI Hate (a tracker created in March 2020 by Asian American groups to document the rising anti-Asian xenophobia and bigotry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans has risen to nearly 3,800. “[Asian] women report hate-incidents 2.3 times more than [Asian] men,” the report said. “Businesses are the primary site of discrimination (35.4%), follow by public streets (25.3%).”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

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