People at events across the US on Wednesday honored the victims of the Atlanta spa killings a year ago and called attention to ongoing violence and the anti-Asian hatred behind it. "It is important to call this what it is, a crime that is racially motivated," said Robert Peterson, whose mother, Yong Ae Yue, was slain in Atlanta last year. "My mother was an Asian woman who was targeted because of who she was," he told a gathering of about 200 people, Reuters reports. The victims included six women of Asian descent, per the AP. "It should not take a tragedy such as this one for us to wake up," said Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House. "This has been ongoing in the history of our country."
In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu said earlier in the week that the Atlanta slayings were, "in some ways, the conclusion or another step in the escalation of attacks that our communities have been facing since the pandemic began, as we saw the horrifying videos of elders pushed to the ground, women attacked while waiting for the bus." Just last weekend, New York police said a woman was brutally beaten by a man after calling her an anti-Asian slur. Wu called it "a very specific kind of pain to see yourself, your parents, your grandparents, your children reflected in those who are being attacked."
Events in a series of cities were organized by the Asian Justice Movement. Civil rights groups had planned a Community Remembrance Day in Atlanta urging "healing and solidarity," per People. In Washington, about two dozen members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, spoke outside the Capitol. Rep. Judy Chu said, "America was finally shocked awake to the reality of anti-Asian hate" by the Atlanta violence. Peterson said it will take "a social response, an institutional response" to stop the violence, per the Guardian. His mother "just wanted to just wanted to work and provide for her family," Peterson said. "My message is that my mother was my mother, but she also could have been your mother." (Read more anti-Asian attack stories.)