Biden condemns rising anti-Asian violence, calls for unity

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Mar 20, 2021, 07:37 AM(IST)

Joe Biden Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

A 21-year-old man has been charged with Tuesday's murders at three spas in and around Atlanta. Investigators said the suspect, who is white, suggested that sexual frustration led him to commit violence. But political leaders and civil rights advocates have speculated the killings were motivated at least in part by anti-Asian sentiment.

US President Joe Biden has condemned the surge in anti-Asian violence in the United States after a deadly shooting rampage in Georgia, and asked all Americans to stand together against hate during a visit to the state.

After meeting with leaders of Georgia's Asian-American community, Biden delivered a brief speech at Atlanta's Emory University, where he branded hate and racism "the ugly poison that's long haunted our nation." The community plunged into grief after this week's shooting incident in Atlanta in which as many as eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed.

A 21-year-old man has been charged with Tuesday's murders at three spas in and around Atlanta. Investigators said the suspect, who is white, suggested that sexual frustration led him to commit violence. But political leaders and civil rights advocates have speculated the killings were motivated at least in part by anti-Asian sentiment.

"Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It must stop. And it is on all of us, all of us together, to make it stop," Biden said after the meeting, calling on US lawmakers to pass a COVID-19 hate crimes bill that would expand Justice Department review of hate crimes exacerbated by the pandemic.

Harris, the first Asian-American vice president in US history, tied the violence to the long history of racism in the United States and likened it to the targeting of Muslims after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

"Racism is real in America, and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America, and always has been. Sexism, too," Harris said. "The president and I will not be silent. We will not stand by. We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination wherever and whenever it occurs."

Biden ordered the US flag flown at half-staff at the White House to honour the victims of the Atlanta area shootings.

Advocates say the surge of attacks on Asian Americans is largely the result of the community being targetted over the coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

The meeting with Asian-American community leaders was a shift in focus of a trip originally planned to promote the newly enacted $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

As he headed to Georgia, Biden stumbled as he climbed aboard Air Force One. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters he was "doing 100 percent fine" and suggested high winds at Joint Base Andrews near Washington may have been a factor.

Also read | Joe Biden stumbles on the steps of Air Force One

The Democratic president's trip was initially part of the "Help is Here" campaign, which he kicked off on Monday to promote his promise of "shots in arms and money in pockets," after signing the COVID-19 relief bill into law last week. Biden has traveled to Pennsylvania and Harris has been to Nevada and Colorado to tout the benefits of the package.

Before they met with Asian-American leaders, Biden and Harris received a coronavirus update at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where they thanked health officials for their effort fighting the pandemic.

In his remarks after meeting with community leaders, Biden touted the COVID-19 relief bill's benefits for Georgia, saying the state’s schools will get $4 billion and state government $5 billion.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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