Atlanta Spa Shooting: MA Lawmakers Say It's Time To Update Hate Crime Laws

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — On Tuesday, there were shootings at three massage parlors in the Atlanta-area that left eight dead; six of them were women of Asian descent.

Massachusetts House Asian Caucus are calling for a hate crime investigation and released a statement saying they were “heartbroken.”

“Although we are not surprised by this senseless violence, it is no less devastating. Violence against Asian Americans has been on the rise for over a year,” the caucus said. “We call for a full investigation by the Atlanta Police to determine if this was a hate crime.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in targeted attacks towards the Asian American community.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, there have been 3,795 reported incidents of discrimination, assault, or harassment among Asian Americans from Mar. 19, 2020 to Feb 28, 2021.

The report stated that the number reported is only a fraction of hate crimes that actually occurred within that timeframe.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, is suspected of opening fire late Tuesday afternoon about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta at one spa and then two more in northeastern Atlanta.

Long indicated to Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker he believed he had a sex addiction and "an issue with porn," and claimed to see the spas as "a temptation ... that he wanted to eliminate."

Many Boston leaders condemned the attack.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “deeply saddened by the violence.”

“Massachusetts joins the nation in praying for the victims + their families, and in condemning the disturbing trend of violence toward the AAPI community,” he tweeted. “MA will not tolerate violence or hate toward this community or anyone.”

City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu, who is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and is the first Asian American president of the Boston City Council, released a statement regarding racism against Asian Americans within Boston.

“It’s heartbreaking & appalling to see the anti-Asian harassment, violence & now mass murder that has accelerated over the past year – part of a long history of racism in America that we all must fight to end,” she said.

Mayor Marty Walsh said he wants Boston to “recommit to erasing intolerance and brutality.”

Rep. Tram Nguyen of Merrimack Valley told WBZ NewsRadio’s Karyn Regal that while we cannot control what people do or say, it is important for the state to establish clearer hate crime laws.

“It draws a line between violent threatening and destructive behavior versus first amendment rights to free speech” Nguyen said.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@KarynRegal) reports:

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Written by Edyn Jensen

(Photo: Getty Images)

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