Mar 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

In photos: Victims of Atlanta spa shootings remembered one year later

Photo of a person holding a sign showing an Asian woman, with the words "Proud to be Asian"
People rally to call for action and awareness on rising incidents of hate crimes against Asian Americans in Times Square in New York City on March 16, 2022. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

People across the U.S. commemorated one year since the Atlanta spa shootings on Wednesday, gathering in rallies and holding vigils in cities including Chicago, D.C., Dallas and Detroit.

Why it matters: A white gunman killed eight people, six of them Asian women, in Atlanta-area spas on March 16, 2021. The mass shooting renewed calls for action against anti-Asian violence amid a yearslong spike in hate crimes targeting Asians in the U.S.

The big picture: The gunman, who told investigators he targeted spas to eliminate his sex addiction, killed Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaine Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Yong Ae Yue, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant and Suncha Kim.

  • He was sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to the murders of four of the victims and faces charges for the other four killings in Fulton County, where the district attorney is seeking the death penalty and sentencing enhancement under Georgia's new hate crimes law.

What they're saying: "My mother was an Asian woman who was targeted for who she was, for occupying a particular space, by someone she didn’t know," Robert Peterson, the son of Yong Ae Yue, said at a rally in Atlanta.

  • "As we stand together, let’s send a message: this is unacceptable. This will not be tolerated."
  • "Racially motivated violence must be called out for exactly what it is, and we must stop making excuses for it or calling it economic anxiety, or in the case of the spa murders, sexual addiction," said Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.), who spoke about her experience as a Black and Korean woman at a congressional press event marking the anniversary.
  • "How many more of us have to be sliced by a boxcutter, bashed on the head with a rock or more recently, punched over 125 times before it gets labeled a hate crime?" educator Esther Lee said in New York City. "I am not overreacting."
  • "It should not take a tragedy such as this one for us to wake up," Georgia Rep. Bee Nguyen (D) said at the Atlanta rally. "This has been ongoing in the history of our country."
In photos
Photo of Robert Peterson speaking from a podium
Robert Peterson, the son of Yong Ae Yue who was a victim of the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings, gives remarks at “The Asian Justice Rally – Break the Silence” event on March 16, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. A coalition of Asian American nonprofit organizations held the event to honor the eight lives lost one year ago at the metro Atlanta shooting spree. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images
Photo of a person holding a hand over their heart with tears in their eyes
Alina Lee, a member of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, listens during "The Asian Justice Rally – Break the Silence” event on March 16, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images
Photo of two people standing on stage, the person on the right closing their eyes as they cry
Sarah Park (right), president of the Korean American Coalition in Metro Atlanta, grows emotional as she speaks at “The Asian Justice Rally – Break the Silence” in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images
Photo of people holding up signs that says "Asians deserve justice"
Demonstrators hold up signs at “The Asian Justice Rally – Break the Silence” event in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images
Photo of Judy Chu speaking from a podium with Congress members lined up behind her
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) speaks during a commemoration to mark the one-year anniversary of a series of deadly shootings at Atlanta-area spas on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on March 16, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty Images
Photo of a person holding a sign that says "Asians belong here," with other people nearby
A rally for action and awareness in response to rising anti-Asian violence, held in Times Square in New York City on March 16, 2022. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images
Photo of people holding up various signs that call for action against anti-Asian hate
Attendees hold up signs at “The Asian Justice Rally – Break the Silence” event on March 16, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Anna Moneymakervia Getty Images

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more photos.

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