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Biden's Atlanta Trip Changes Direction

President, Harris to meet with Asian-American leaders about violence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2021 4:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris plan to meet Friday with Asian-American leaders in Georgia in the wake of the deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. Meanwhile, authorities said the investigation could still result in hate crime charges, the AP reports. "Our investigation is looking at everything, so nothing is off the table," a police official said. The president and vice president were already scheduled to travel Friday to Atlanta to tout the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, but the trip took on new meaning after the shootings that killed eight people, six of them Asian women. A ninth person was also shot but survived. Biden and Harris, the first vice president of Asian descent, will postpone an evening political event in Georgia to attend the meeting. They also plan to visit the CDC for a pandemic update.

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Authorities have charged Robert Aaron Long, 21, with murder in the worst mass killing in the US in almost two years. He told police that Tuesday's attack was not racially motivated. He claimed to have a sex addiction, and authorities said he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation. Long's statements spurred outrage in the Asian-American community, which has increasingly been targeted for violence during the coronavirus pandemic. After Cherokee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker drew criticism for saying Long had "a really bad day," Sheriff Frank Reynolds released a statement Thursday acknowledging that the comments stirred "much debate and anger” and said the agency regrets any "heartache" they caused. (An elderly Asian-American woman fought back against her attacker in San Francisco.)

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