During an interview with Fox News, Donald Trump again referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” on the same night that six Asian women were shot dead at three massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia.
A total of eight people were killed in these shootings, six of them were Asian women. The shootings took place on Tuesday evening.
The first shootings took place at Young’s Asian Massage located along Highway 92 in Acworth, which is around 30 miles from Atlanta. The shooting happened around 5 p.m. Two more shootings would follow in Atlanta about an hour later.
Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, has been taken into custody.
Authorities have not confirmed Long’s motive, but the shootings come at a time when there is a spike in attacks on Asian Americans across the United States. Many took to Twitter to speak out about the killings and used the hashtag #StopAsianHate,
Both law enforcement officials and activists have stated that anti-Asian attacks are being fueled by Trump’s rhetoric as his administration struggled to contain the novel coronavirus. Trump repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” and also as the “Kung flu.”
Reporter Aaron Rupar noted on Twitter that Trump used the phrase “China virus” during a Fox News interview that started at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Trump spent the better part of a year using a virus as a slur against Chinese people while hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked by 150 percent,” Rupar tweeted.
“Trump even used an anti-Chinese slur during his interview this evening on Fox, just before news trickled out of a mass shooting in the Atlanta area that apparently targeted Asians and left 8 people dead,” Rupar added.
Trump spoke to Fox host Maria Bartiromo, stating: “We got [the economy] to a level that the world has never seen before. We were the envy of the world and then when we got hit by the—as I call it the China virus, COVID—it obviously went down with every other economy.”
Trump went on to mention the “China virus” in statements that he made last week. During those statements, he claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine would not have been available for at least five years without him.
Days after Trump’s comments President Joe Biden condemned hate crimes against Asian Americans, who he stated had been “attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated” throughout the pandemic.
“They’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong. It’s un-American and it must stop,” Biden stated during his primetime address.
Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary, later told reporters that Biden had major concerns about Trump’s role in provoking hate against Asian Americans.
On Tuesday, Stop AAPI Hate released a report revealing that it had been notified about almost 3,800 incidents between March 19, 2020, and February 28 this year. Those figures, sadly, only represent a small percentage of actual cases the organization added. According to data, Asian women report hate incidents 2.3 times more than men.