Asian American communities on edge after deadly shootings

By Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:55 p.m. ET, March 19, 2021
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6:41 p.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Biden: "Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It must stop."

President Biden provided Americans a sobering look at the racist behavior countless Asian Americans have had to contend with since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden's remarks were made in Atlanta this afternoon just days after the deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area spas where six of the eight people killed were Asian women.

"Their families are left with broken hearts and unanswered questions and the investigation is ongoing," Biden said. "Whatever the motivation we know this, too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying, waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake. They've been attacked, blamed, scapegoated, harassed. They've been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed."

Biden added: "Documented incidents of hate against Asian Americans have seen a skyrocketing spike over the last year, let alone the ones that happened and never get reported. It's been a year of living in fear for their lives just to walk down the street. .... With all the good that laws can do, we have to change our hearts. Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It must stop. It's on all of us, all of us together to make it stop."

Watch here:

5:58 p.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Harris: "Racism is real in America and it has always been"

Vice President Kamala Harris made a speech this afternoon acknowledging the United States' racist past in the aftermath of the shootings that claimed eight lives earlier this week around the Atlanta area.

"The shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans has risen dramatically over the last year and more," Harris said. "Racism is real in America and it has always been; xenophobia is real in America and always has been; sexism, too."

Harris added: "For the last year we've had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans, people with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate. Ultimately this is about who we are as a nation. This is about how we treat people with dignity and respect. Everyone has the right to go to work, to go to school, to walk down the street and be safe and also the right to be recognized as an American, not as the other, not as them, but as us."

5:38 p.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Vice President Harris' message to Asian Americans: "We won't be silent. We won't standby."

From CNN's DJ Judd

Vice President Kamala Harris vowed Friday to "always speak out against violence" following a meeting with Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) leaders in Georgia.

The vice president shared her message on Twitter after meeting with leaders following shootings at three Atlanta-area spas, which killed eight people — including six Asian women. 

“We want Asian Americans in Georgia and across our nation to know: We won't be silent. We won't standby. We will always speak out against violence," she said.

Read her full tweet:

5:08 p.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Friend of spa shooting victim remembers her as "someone that made you feel like family"

From CNN’s Paul Murphy

Greg Hynson remembers his friend, Atlanta-area spa shooting victim Xiaojie Tan, who he knew as Emily, as someone that made you feel like family.

He said he would often stop by her Cherokee County business, Young’s Asian Massage, to say "Hello," just like he did this past weekend. It was the last time Hynson said he saw Tan, who was busy at the time.  

"I'll come back later," he remembered telling her when he saw her.  

"I didn't get a chance to come back later," he said.  

This past October, during his birthday, he remembered getting a text from Tan, who wrote, "Hey, what are you doing?" 

She then invited him over to the business, where flowers and a cake, with his name, was waiting for him.  

That's just emblematic of the type of person Tan was, Hynson said — loving and unselfish.  

"Hey, we're family," he remembered they would tell each other often. "I'll watch your back, you watch mine." 

The two met through mutual friends more than five years ago.  

Tan, he said, was a diligent, hardworking businesswoman.  

"Emily’s employees, they were always sweet and nice people," he said. "Very similar to her personality."

He also confirmed that Tan was the mother of a daughter who was a recent University of Georgia graduate.  

3:40 p.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Biden and Harris are meeting with Asian American leaders in Atlanta

From CNN's DJ Judd, Jeff Zeleny and Kate Sullivan

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are meeting with Asian American leaders at Emory University in Atlanta in the wake of deadly shootings that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

Here's who will be attending today's listening session:

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
  • Georgia State Sen. Dr. Michelle Au
  • Georgia State Sen. Sheikh Rahman
  • Georgia State Rep. Marvin Lim
  • Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen
  • Georgia State Rep. Sam Park
  • Stephanie Cho, executive director of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-​Atlanta
  • Victoria Huynh, vice president of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services
  • Bianca Jyotishi, Georgia organizing manager of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
  • Cedric Richmond, director of the Office of Public Engagement
  • Sameera Fazili, deputy director of the National Economic Council

Both Biden and Harris will be speaking following the meeting.

11:52 a.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Biden urges Congress to pass Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden just issued a statement urging Congress to “swiftly pass” the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act

The legislation, Biden said in the statement, “would expedite the federal government’s response to the rise of hate crimes exacerbated during the pandemic, support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting, and ensure that hate crimes information is more accessible to Asian American communities.”

Biden also noted that during his first week in office, he signed a presidential memorandum to "condemn and combat racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States."

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be meeting with Asian American leaders in Atlanta today following Tuesday's shooting that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.

1:59 p.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Go There: CNN answers your questions about the Atlanta spa shootings investigation 

As police continue to investigate the shootings at three spas in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, the city's mayor says she believes the incident was a hate crime.

The attack has shaken the Asian American community in the city and around the country. Six of the eight people killed were Asian women. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Atlanta today meeting with Asian American leaders.

CNN correspondent Natasha Chen was in Georgia answering viewers' questions about the investigation.


11:30 a.m. ET, March 19, 2021

Husband of spa shooting victim: "The most valuable thing" in my life was taken from me

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Mario Gonzalez, the husband of Delaina Yaun, 33, one of the victims of the spa shootings, said he heard the gunshots from inside the spa, according to his interview with Mundo Hispanico.   

 "It was a very sad day," said Gonzalez. The father of two went to Young's Asian Massage with his wife, but was in a separate room when the shooting started, he said to Mundo Hispanico.  

"We were going with the intention of getting a massage but I wasn’t expecting my wife’s life was on its way," said Gonzalez to the newspaper. 

"We were on our way, happy, she had just left work and in one moment this happens," said Gonzalez. 

"About an hour in, almost at the end, I heard the shots. I didn’t see anything, only, I started to think it was in the room where my wife was," Gonzalez told the Spanish-language newspaper. 

Yaun was one of four people killed at the spa near Woodstock, Georgia, CNN has reported. 

"They took the most valuable thing I have in my life, I had because she was taken from me. He left me with only pain, the killer who killed my wife, something needs to be done," said Gonzalez to Mundo Hispanico.  

Robert Aaron Long, the suspect, is being held without bond in Cherokee County on several murder charges. Long is accused of killing a total of 8 people.

11:28 a.m. ET, March 19, 2021

More than $550,000 raised for the sons of one of the spa shooting victims

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos and Paul Murphy

GoFundMe page for the two sons of Atlanta spa shooting victim Hyun Jung Grant has raised $550,000 as of Friday morning.

The GoFundMe page, which the company tells CNN they verified, was purportedly set up by Grant’s son Randy Park. 

CNN has reached out to Park, who did not immediately respond.

According to the page, about 14,000 people have donated.

On the page, Park writes the murder of his mother “is something that should never happen to anyone.”  Grant, 51, died of a gunshot wound to the head Tuesday, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“She was a single mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for my brother and I. It is only my brother and I in the United States,” Park wrote adding the rest of their family remains in South Korea.

Park said his mother was “one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today.“

“Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world,” he wrote.

Park said he and his brother have been advised to move out of their house to save money and “due to some legal complications,” he and his brother have been unable to obtain her body so they can have a funeral. Park said he and his brother hope to stay in their home.