Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao calls Atlanta-area shootings 'vicious, unconscionable acts of violence'

Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Thursday said the string of deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area Asian spas “cut at the very core of our country” and that work to combat hate against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community “must intensify.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of the attack in Atlanta,” Chao said in a statement first provided to CNN.
“Such vicious, unconscionable acts of violence cut at the very core of our country and the values on which it was founded. As we await the findings of a thorough investigation, the critical work to combat the haunting rise of hatred against the AAPI community must intensify with the immediacy this latest tragedy commands.”
    Tuesday’s shootings took place at two spas in Atlanta and another in Acworth, a city northwest of Atlanta, which left eight people — at least four of them Asian women — dead.
      While investigators have not yet determined a motive in the shootings, violence against Asian Americans has risen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The group Stop AAPI Hate began tracking violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in March 2020 and has received nearly 4,000 firsthand complaints.
        Most Senate Republicans, however, have not commented publicly on the issue of violence against Asian Americans in the wake of the shootings — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chao’s husband, who ignored multiple questions about the Atlanta shootings, including whether former President Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric about China and coronavirus led to a rise in anti-Asian American bias and about who is to blame for the shootings.
        Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday expressed concerns about violence against Asian Americans as they addressed the shootings. The President said in the Oval Office that he was “very concerned because, as you know, I’ve been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple of months.”
            And Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold her office, said the shooting also spoke to the “larger issue” of violence.
            “Our country, the President and I and all of us, we grieve for the loss,” she said. “Our prayers are extended to the families of those who have been killed, and it speaks to a larger issue, which is the issue of violence in our country and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it.”

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