That concluded our coverage for today. Here’s a summary of the day’s events:
- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris condemned the Atlanta attacks in remarks on Friday evening. They also condemned a rise in anti-Asian violence over the past year, with Biden saying “our silence is complicity”. Harris said that “Asian Americans have been attacked and scapegoated” over the past year.
- More details of the victims’ lives have emerged today. The son of Hyun Jung Grant said his mother: “was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today” in a post on the GoFundMe website.
- Police in cities across the country increased foot patrols in Asian neighborhoods amid fears of anti-Asian violence after the shooting.
- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris met earlier with Asian American community leaders. Biden is also calling for new hate crimes legislation to protect Asian Americans and others targeted by a “rise of hate crimes exacerbated during the pandemic.”
Biden, who has known his fair share of loss, offered a heartfelt tribute to the families of the Atlanta shooting as he concluded his speech.
“I know they feel like there’s a black hole in their chest […] and that things will never get better,” Biden said.
“Our prayers are with you, and I assure you, the one you lost will always be with you. And the day will come when their memory brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye, as unbelievable as that is now.
“It will take a while, but I promise you it will come. When it does, that’s the day you know you’re going to make it.”
Biden – ‘words have consequences’
Joe Biden has addressed the shootings in Atlanta, saying that “words have consequences” as he detailed the violence Asian Americans have faced over the past year.
“Whatever the motivation [for the shootings] 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 stake. They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed,” Biden said.
“It’s been a year of living in fear for their lives just to walk down their street. Grandparents afraid to leave their homes. Small businesses attacked.”
Donald Trump and other Republican politicians repeatedly dubbed Covid-19 the “China virus”, and Biden said that language had contributed to a dramatic spike in anti-Asian violence over the past year.
“We’re learning again we’ve always known, words have consequences. It’s the coronavirus, full stop,” Biden said.
“Hate and violence often hide in plain sight,” Biden said, yet that hate and violence is “often met with silence”.
That has to change, Biden said, because “our silence is complicity”.
Kamala Harris has said the Atlanta shootings were a “heinous act of violence” in a speech in the city, and hinted at the impact of Donald Trump’s racist language.
“We were reminded yet again that the crises we face are many, that the foes we face are many,” Harris said.
“Whatever the killer’s motive these facts are clear,” Harris said: six out the eight people killed were of Asian descent, seven were women, and “the shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans”.
Violence against Asian Americans has risen dramatically over past year, Harris said.
“Racism is real in America and it has always been,” and so has xenophoba and sexism, Harris said.
Over the past year, “Asian Americans have been attacked and scapegoated”, Harris said.
“We’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.”
We’re waiting to hear from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who are scheduled to speak any time now at Emory university, in Atlanta.
CNN has a full list of the people Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are meeting with in Atlanta to discuss Asian American violence.
Among the state leaders and community leaders are Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Georgia state senator Dr Michelle Au; Georgia state senator Sheikh Rahman; Georgia state representative Marvin Lim; Georgia state representative Bee Nguyen and Georgia state representative Sam Park.
The president and vice-president are also meeting Stephanie Cho, executive director of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and Victoria Huynh, vice president of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services.
Biden is expected to give an address at Emory university later today.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are set to meet Asian American Georgia state legislators and other community leaders in Atlanta at 3.35pm.
The president and vice-president are said to discuss the racist rhetoric and actions against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which have proliferated during the pandemic, after Covid-19 first emerged in China.
Biden and Harris had already been scheduled to visit Atlanta, as part of a tour designed to laud the recently passed $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill, but the focus of the visit was changed in the wake of the shootings.
The Fulton County medical examiner’s office has updated the list of victims in the shootings who were named today. The eight who were killed on Tuesday:
• Soon Chung Park, age 74
• Hyun Jung Grant, age 51
• Suncha Kim, age 69
• Yong Yue, age 63
• Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33
• Paul Andre Michels, age 54
• Xiaojie Tan, age 49
• Daoyou Feng, age 44
Hyun Jung Grant’s son, Randy Park, wrote that his mother: “was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today.”
Delaina Ashley Yaun’s friend, Rose Luce, told the Guardian: “I’ve never seen such love in a family the way I see the love Delaina had for hers.”
Paul Andre Michels’ brother, Paul, told the Guardian: “He was just a regular guy, very good-hearted, very soft-natured.”
Xiaojie Tan’s daughter, Jami Webb, told USA Today: “She did everything for me and for the family. She provided everything. She worked every day, 12 hours a day, so that me and our family would have a better life.”
Reporting for the Guardian from Atlanta, Mike Jordan spoke to people at Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park about the shootings this week.
Kyra Kimber, a Black woman, said she wasn’t aware Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were visiting the city that day, but said she was happy they were visiting at this time.
“Being here in this place reminds me to remember Martin Luther King’s legacy and what he stood for,” Kimber said. “Also being here makes me think not only about what happened the other night, but to remember we are the next generation. We are the future. We need to take action and we need to take charge of our community.”
Kelly Beck, a white woman, said: “I feel both moved by the promise that Martin Luther King’s message held for us all, and also a little disheartened that 50 to 60 years later, not only are we feeling the repercussions of a society built on systemic injustice, but now I think, especially in these particular murders, that it is the intersection of race and gender,”
“So it’s white supremacy and the patriarchy that’s so deeply embedded in the culture and system that is America.” Beck said. “One man’s voice really isn’t enough. It was a shining beacon, but the work is collective work, and it hasn’t gone away.”
The suspected gunman in Tuesday’s shootings was an active member at Crabapple First Baptist Church, in Milton, Georgia, which has released a statement about the killings. “The shootings were a total repudiation of our faith and practice, and such actions are completely unacceptable and contrary to the gospel,” the church said.
The congregation held a members-only meeting on Wednesday night and took down its social media profiles after the shootings. The church said it had cooperated with law enforcement in the statement and said it blamed the suspect entirely for the shootings.
“No blame can be placed upon the victims,” the church said. “He alone is responsible for his evil actions and desires.”
The statement concluded: “we deeply regret the fear and pain Asian-Americans” were experiencing because of the shootings.
Raymond Chang, a Korean American who is head of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, told the Washington Post earlier this week that he was disappointed but not surprised to learn that the suspected gunman was a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) member.
“One of the things that is difficult about white evangelical Christian churches and spaces is that they struggle to talk about race and racism in any meaningful way and create conditions in which racism and white supremacy can sadly flourish,” said Chang.
He said the SBC “need to wrestle with whether they had a part systemically in the long chain of discipleship in producing someone that could do something like this”.
Randy Park, the son of victim Hyun Jung Grant, created a GoFundMe to raise money for him and his brother, who he said are the only members of his family who live in the US.
On the fundraising website, he said that he was dealing with arranging the funeral, figuring out the brothers’ living situation and trying to pay for expenses like bills and food.
Park wrote of his mother:
She 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. As much as I want to grieve and process the reality that she is gone, I have a younger brother to take care of and matters to resolve as a result of this tragedy.Frankly, I have no time to grieve for long.
As of Friday afternoon, more than $878,000 had been raised. In an update, Park wrote:
Thank you everyone and please share whatever care and kindness you have shown here to anyone you know that feels scared or unsure about the world we live in. I can’t help but feel selfish for all the attention this has garnered. Thank you everyone so much. This doesn’t represent even a fragment of how I feel. My mother can rest easy knowing I have the support of the world with me