On March 16, a 21-year old white man walked into three different spa locations across Atlanta, shot and killed eight people — six of whom were Asian American women. This racist and misogynist massacre targeting women workers of Asian descent shocked many across the country. The killer was caught by the police the same night.
On March 18, the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Atlanta responded to this atrocity by organizing a protest nearby two of the targeted spas. Protesters held signs that read, “Unite against racism and sexism,” “Stop anti-Asian racism now,” “Stop violence against women,” “No new cold war,” and “Peace with China.” Organizers and attendees condemned racism, sexism, white supremacy and China-bashing. Journalists belonging to local, national, and international media covered the protest — allowing the protest’s militant message of solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to reach millions of people.
It is of significance that this demonstration took place in Atlanta — where the massacre occurred — less than 48 hours from the time of the attacks. The intended goal of vigilante terrorism is to paralyze and strike fear into the hearts of the people whose community is targeted. This protest was a rallying cry to not cower in this moment, but for working-class people of all nationalities to unite, get organized, build the anti-racist and anti-war movement, and fight back!
That the police refused to label the blatantly racist act of terrorism as a hate crime bred outrage among all progressive people across the country. Protesters in Atlanta demanded officials label the hate crime for what it is, and Cherokee County Sheriff Jay Baker be fired.
The day after the shootings, Baker said at a press conference that the killings were not racially motivated — because the killer said so! Making no effort to hide his sympathy for the mass murderer, Baker went on to say that the killer was “fed up,” “kind of at the end of the rope,” and was having, “a really bad day.” The corporate media too fell in line with the police and refrained from labeling the massacre a hate crime. The killer’s fetishization and dehumanization of Asian women was swept aside while officials sought to justify the killer’s motives.
This massacre has taken place within the context of a new wave of anti-Asian racism and hate crimes. The scapegoating of China for COVID-19, the war-hawkish hostility of the U.S. government building up to a military confrontation with China, as well as the mass anti-China demonization propaganda campaign has added fuel to a fire that was already blazing. This racist demonization seeks to desensitize the U.S. population from raising opposition to a future U.S.-led war on China — a country of 1.4 billion people.
The corporate media — an amplifier of the U.S. political establishment — has played a critical role in the development of anti-China sentiment. U.S. politicians and the corporate media’s systematic bombardment of anti-China misinformation is why there is a spike in racist violence toward Chinese and Chinese Americans. In the United States, for a variety of reasons, many non-Asian people cannot distinguish between Asian Americans of different nationalities — putting all Asians in the line of fire.
On March 20, Atlanta saw another rally of hundreds — organized by local organizations in Atlanta and attended by local politicians — condemning racist violence against AAPI communities. Multiple demonstrations were organized in Atlanta for the weekend of March 26-28, including a rally by the ANSWER Coalition on March 27, as part of the National Day of Action against Anti-Asian violence and China-bashing; over 60 cities in the country had demonstrations on March 27.
The Atlanta massacre has sparked a new nation-wide movement — demanding an end to anti-Asian racism, violence against women, and white supremacy. Making the connection between the rising Sinophobia in the United States and the imperialist ruling-class’s preparation for war on China is key to this struggle.