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Atlanta spa shootings: Asian American women in SF demand greater protections on 1-year anniversary

A year after the Atlanta-area spa shootings that killed eight people, six among them Asian females, San Francisco and 10 other major U.S. cities will hold memorial events Wednesday as fear and public safety concerns linger in Asian American communities.

On Mar. 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long gunned down eight innocent victims in multiple spa locations in the Atlanta area. The mass shooting sparked national outrage amid the Stop Asian Hate movement and the motives of Long, 21 years old at the time, were described to be a “sexual addiction.” He was convicted of murder and other charges and sentenced to life without parole.

On Wednesday afternoon, a “Break The Silence: Justice for Asian Women” event will be held at the Asian Art Museum to remember the victims while also presenting a resource fair featuring 17 nonprofit organizations geared toward Asian American and Pacific Islander women. Multiple Asian American female activists, including actress Olivia Cheng, are expected to attend.

Sharon Chung, a member of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, said the Atlanta spa shootings are a “harrowing” reminder that the spike in anti-Asian hate is an issue that still needs to be addressed.

“More work needs to be done to ensure the safety of not just AAPI women, but also women across all vulnerable communities,” she said.

High-profile crimes against Asian American women have become a focal point during the pandemic. In New York, Bay Area native Michelle Go was pushed to her death on a subway track, and Christina Lee was followed home in February and stabbed to death in New York.

“There’s definitely a lot of anxiety on the personal level,” Chung said.

She added that the community must continue to “have faith” that things will improve and she called on all communities to lean in and stand in solidarity.

On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan—the only Asian female on the board—introduced a resolution to affirm the city’s committment to ending “all forms of AAPI violence.”

“In reflecting on the anniversary of this hateful act of violence against the Asian American community, it is essential to do more beyond remembrances and apologies in order to stop the violence against our AAPI communities,” the resolution reads.