Athletes denounce Atlanta shootings, condemn anti-Asian racism

After dropping off flowers Jesus Estrella, left, and Shelby S., right, stand in support of the Asian and Hispanic community outside Youngs Asian Massage parlor where four people were killed, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Acworth, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

In the wake of Tuesday’s mass shooting in Atlanta, which took the lives of six women of Asian descent and eight people altogether, several athletes have used their platforms to denounce the brazen violence and condemn racism against Asian-Americans.

The shooter, a white man, was charged on Wednesday with eight counts of murder in connection with the attacks. Investigators have said they have not ruled out racial bias as a motivating factor for the killings even as the suspect denied racial animus being part of his motivation once in custody.

Over the last year, hate incidents against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have dramatically increased. A report released Tuesday by Stop AAPI Hate, a group formed in March of 2020 to document and prevent discrimination against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders during the COVID-19 pandemic, said nearly 3,800 incidents had been recorded between March 19 and Feb. 28. The number, the group said, could be higher because not all incidents are reported.

“The recent attacks against our brothers and sisters in the Asian-American community are heartbreaking,” Dwyane Wade, a three-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat, wrote in a statement on social media. “The physical assaults and recent killings are rooted in racism. It needs to stop. We cannot be silent. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost their loved ones due to this senseless hatred. To the Asian community — we love you and are standing united with you. Enough is enough. #StopAsianHate”

Kyle Kuzma, LeBron James’ teammate with the Los Angeles Lakers, quote tweeted James’ message with praying hands and went on to make several of his own posts reflecting the history of race in America.

Jeremy Lin, who is of Chinese and Taiwanese descent, had previously shared multiple incidents in which he was the victim of anti-Asian racism in the past, including being called “coronavirus” during a recent stint in the G League.

Lin commented on the Atlanta shootings on Twitter as well, calling them “heartbreaking,” and advocating for everyone to rally together and fight for change.

Lin also urged media to focus on telling the victims’ stories, not the murderer’s, in response to comments from an Atlanta police officer who said the shooter had “a really bad day” before committing the violence that left eight people dead.

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