A year ago today, eight people, including six Asian women, were tragically killed by a gunman who attacked three Asian-run businesses. These horrific killings have rocked communities across America and underscored how far we must go in this country to fight racism, misogyny and all forms of hate – and the epidemic of gun violence that allows these extremists.
In the aftermath of these senseless deaths, the Vice President and I traveled to Atlanta to meet with leaders of the Asian American community. We have heard of the terror and anguish that too many Asian Americans have felt since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when anti-Asian xenophobia, harassment and violence reached levels alarming. Grandparents are afraid to leave their house. Small business owners targeted and slaughtered. Families in fear for their lives are just walking the streets in America. It was a stark reminder that anti-Asian violence and discrimination has deep roots in our country, with Asian American women facing compounded harms from being targeted because of their race as well as their gender.
Today, we honor the victims, their families, and the community of Atlanta who showed extraordinary resilience in the face of tragedy. While nothing we do can bring back the victims, their loss has compelled us to heed our nation’s long legacy of anti-Asian sentiment and gender-based violence, and recommit to delivering the full measure of justice, security and dignity to Asians. The American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community and all communities deserve this. I was proud to sign the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act last May, which dedicated new tools and resources across government and law enforcement to help prevent, track and respond to acts of hatred, as well as new Department of Justice grants and other measures to improve community engagement, empowerment and education.
This tragedy is also another reminder of the epidemic of gun violence. My administration has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other administration in its first year. But there is more to do and Congress must act.
On this dark anniversary, my administration remains fully committed to advancing safety, inclusion, and belonging for all Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders — especially women and girls who wear disproportionately the burden of hate – and to reduce the gun violence that terrorizes our communities. Together, we must build a future where no one fears violence.