Biden and Harris to meet with Asian American leaders in Atlanta after shootings


President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are meeting with Asian American leaders at Emory University on Friday to discuss the recent rise in attacks against the Asian American community. The private visit comes after shootings at three Atlanta-area spas this week which resulted in the deaths of eight people, including six Asian American women. 

Officials in Georgia said at a Wednesday morning press briefing that the suspect took responsibility and claimed it wasn’t racially motivated, but instead was due to his self-proclaimed “sex addiction.” But Asian Americans in Georgia and across the country are reeling from the shootings, which took place after a year of increased attacks on Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. A report by the group Stop APPI Hate found Asian Americans faced 3,800 hate incidents in the past year.

The president ordered flags at the White House and on federal grounds in the U.S. and abroad to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, announcing that the flags will be lowered until sunset on March 22 “as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence.”

A House subcommittee also held a hearing on Thursday on discrimination against Asian Americans. Congresswoman Judy Chu, the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, spoke about the escalation of attacks against the AAPI community and argued that former President Trump’s rhetoric had contributed to the rise in the attacks.

“They were stoked by the words of former President Donald Trump, who sought to shift blame and anger away from his own flawed response to the coronavirus,” Chu testified.

Mr. Biden and Harris had originally planned to travel to Georgia on Friday as part of their nationwide tour to promote the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

While in Georgia, Mr. Biden and Harris will also visit the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday to receive an update on efforts to combat the pandemic. CBS News has confirmed that the president will meet with Democrat Stacey Abrams as well. Her efforts to mobilize voters ahead of the 2020 election helped Mr. Biden and Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia win the state by a narrow margin.

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