Washington, March 20 : US President Joe Biden has urged Congress to pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act in the wake of the deadly Atlanta massage parlour shootings, that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.
“I urge Congress to swiftly pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would expedite the federal government’s response to the rise of hate crimes exacerbated during the pandemic, support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting, and ensure that hate crimes information is more accessible to Asian American communities,” the president said in a statement released by the White House on Friday.
Biden also mentioned that during his first week in office, he signed a presidential memorandum “to condemn and combat racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US”, reports Xinhua news agency.
“While we do not yet know motive, as I said last week, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing crisis of gender-based and anti-Asian violence that has long plagued our nation,” the President added in the statement.
Eight people, six of whom were Asian and two were white, were killed in three shooting incidents in the Atlanta area by a suspect identified as 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.
He has been arrested and charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.
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.
When caught, he was on the way to Florida, where he planned to commit similar crimes, the authorities added.
The carnage came amid a troubling spike in violence against the Asian-American community — 3,800 hate incidents reported in the last year, statistics showed.