Washington, March 18 Democrats from both the House of Representatives and the Senate have condemned the exacerbating anti-Asian violence in the US in the wake of the Atlanta massage parlour shootings that claimed the lives of eight people, including six As.
On Wednesday, Rodney Bryant, acting chief of the Atlanta Police Department, told a news briefing that the probe was still in the "very early" stage, and that investigators cannot determine at the moment that the shooting spree was a hate crime, although multiple calls received by the police department sought to confirm that conclusion, reports Xinhua news agency.
Police on Tuesday evening arrested the suspect, 21-year-old white man from Georgia, Robert Aaron Long, who during an interview with law enforcement at the night claimed responsibility for the shooting incidents at three massage parlours in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Long claimed that the attacks were not racially motivated, and that he had a "sexual addiction" and saw the massage parlours as a "temptation" that he wanted to "eliminate", according to authorities, adding that Long, when caught, was on the way to Florida, where he planned to commit similar crimes.
The carnage added to the already high tensions around violence and discrimination targeting the Asian American community during the coronavirus pandemic.
While condemning Tuesday's carnage, the Congressional Democrats also warned of a surge in similar hate-crimes.
On Wednesday, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman Ted Lieu, both of whom are of Asian origins, accused the Donald Trump administration of stoking racial discrimination and fanning the flame of hatred toward Asian Americans by using ethnic identifiers like "China virus", "Wuhan virus" and "Kung Flu" in describing the coronavirus.
"As a result, the anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents increased exponentially," said Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
She said research has found that the amount of anti-Asian Twitter traffic increased by 900 per cent in the first few months of Trump's usage of the slurs.
"And what we saw yesterday, is the result of that."
The House has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on rising incidents of hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans.
Meanwhile, Richard Blumenthal, a Senator from Connecticut, tweeted that the shooting on Tuesday "reflects a sickening trend that must be stopped".
"America must unite to fight the stomach-turning surge in violence against the Asian-American community," he said.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, former President Barack Obama said the identity of those killed in Tuesday's shooting rampage "underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end".
He called for ridding the country of gun violence, which he said is a "longer-lasting epidemic" compared to the coronavirus pandemic.
( With inputs from IANS )
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