President Joe Biden on Friday (March 19) called on U.S. lawmakers to quickly pass a COVID-19 hate crimes bill, saying while the motive was still unknown in this week’s shooting in Georgia, the nation faced an “ongoing crisis of gender-based and anti-Asian violence.”
“It’s time for Congress to codify and expand upon these actions – because every person in our nation deserves to live their lives with safety, dignity, and respect,” he said in a statement released as the president headed to Atlanta to meet with Asian American leaders.
On Capitol Hill, House members held a moment of silence on Friday for the shooting victims.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet community leaders and state lawmakers from the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community to hear concerns about the killings and discuss a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Thursday.
A 21-year-old man has been charged with murdering eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at three spas in and around Atlanta on Tuesday, rattling Asian Americans already grappling with a rise in hate crimes directed at them since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
(Production: Katharine Jackson)