President Biden called his meeting with local Asian-American leaders in Atlanta on Friday “heart-wrenching,’’ saying racism is “the ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation.”
Biden and Veep Kamala Harris — the country’s first Asian-American vice president — had met with the leaders to offer support in the wake of this week’s slaughter at three Atlanta-area massage parlors.
Six of the eight people killed were Asian women, and while authorities say they don’t believe the killings were a hate crime at this point, the investigation is ongoing.
“Racism is real in America, and it has always been,” Harris said at a press briefing after the meeting.
“A harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. 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.”
Introduced to the podium by Harris, Biden said the meeting was “heart-wrenching to listen to.
“I said from the beginning of my campaign for president that we needed to come together, that we needed to unite as one people one nation, one America,” Biden said.
“I believe with every fiber in my being that there are simply some core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans,” he said. “One of them is standing together against hate,” he said.
Harris and Biden had planned on their trip to the Georgia capitol — home to the Centers for Disease Control — to celebrate the passage of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and the milestone delivery of 100 million COVID-19 shots to Americans in the past 60 days, she said.
“And then Tuesday night, we learned that eight of our neighbors were killed in a heinous act of violence — violence that has no place in the state of Georgia or in the United States of America,” said Harris.
“Whatever the killer’s motives, these facts are clear. Six of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent,” she said.
“Seven were women. The shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian-Americans. The shootings took place as violence, hate crimes and discrimination against AA has risen dramatically over the past year and more,” she said.
“It’s all harmful, and sadly, it’s not new,” she said of the 3,800 hate-crime incidents recorded against Asian-Americans in the past year, two-thirds of which she said were committed against women.
“Everything from physical assaults to verbal accusations,” she said of the attacks.
Harris condemned the country’s history of xenophobia, including laws forbidding newly immigrating Asian-Americans from owning property as they helped build the country’s transcontinental railroad in the 1860s and the more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans forced to live in interment camps during WWII.
“Today @POTUS and I met with Asian American leaders in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss the rise in attacks against the community,” Harris tweeted after the meeting.
“We want Asian Americans in Georgia and across our nation to know: We won’t be silent. We wont stand by. We will always speak out against violence.”