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'The AAPI community insists on being seen' | Advocates mark two years since Atlanta spa shootings

Eight people were killed, six of them women of Asian descent, two years ago in mass shootings in Atlanta and Cherokee County.

ATLANTA — Advocates and lawmakers gathered at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday to mark two years since the Atlanta spa shootings, what state Rep. Sam Park called "a somber day, and a somber occasion."

In a morning press conference, which included family members of the victims of the March 16, 2021 shootings in Cherokee County and Atlanta, state Rep. Michelle Au declared: "The AAPI community insists on being seen, we insist on being heard, and we know that in order to do that we must raise our voices and demand it."

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Rep. Au had come from an earlier hearing on her bill, HB 161, which would formalize regulations on securely storing guns that could potentially be accessed by a minor.

She punctuated her remarks by naming the victims of the 2021 shootings:

  • Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33
  • Paul Andre Michels, 54
  • Xiaojie Tan, 49
  • Daoyou Feng, 44
  • Soon Chung Park, 74
  • Hyun Jung Grant, 51
  • Sun Cha Kim, 69
  • Yong Ae Yue, 63

Speakers also included Bee Nugyen, the former state rep who now has a leading role as state director for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock's office; state Rep. Park; Congresswoman Lucy McBath, who lost her son Jordan to gun violence; and Erika Moritsugu, who serves the Biden administration as a deputy assistant to the president and AAPI senior liaison.

Moritsugu read a statement from the president, expressing the administration's commitment to "fight alongside you to protect our families and communities."

"We have a great faith in the community of the Atlanta metro area, and hope for our country as we continue on this journey together to heal the soul of the nation," the statement said in part.

McBath, who has made gun control and safety her signature issue in Congress, said, "We must rededicate ourselves again and again and again to our responsibility to act, to champion solutions that do save lives."

"I know what a day like today feels like," she said of the two-year marker since the Atlanta spa shootings. "Last month I actually celebrated what should have been my son Jordan's 28th birthday... my fellow survivors, which some are with us today, you are honoring the memory and the legacy of your loved ones in your advocacy. Thank you for your courage and thank you for standing here and being a voice for this movement," McBath said.

Nguyen, who last year ran for Georgia Secretary of State, spoke on behalf of Sen. Warnock and, she said, herself as an Asian woman.

"The tragedy unveiled to us the often untold experiences of the AAPI community and immigrant communities - our feelings of invisibility, what it's like to be unseen and to feel unheard, what it's like to live in the shadows," she said. "So today as we gather together as a collective community, my hope is that we continue to be strong and steadfast in our efforts to build a safe place for our AAPI community, that we use our voices for ourselves and for other marginalized communities, that we are not just gathering together to share our collective grief but we build together our power. And in doing so we honor the lives of the eight people who were robbed of their futures two years ago."


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