Hate Crimes and the Atlanta Shooting

Many speculate online whether the deadly shootings on March 16, 2021 should be considered a hate crime.

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Paul Becker (contact: [email protected])

People protest anti-Asian hate crimes.

March 16, 2021, a man named Robert Aaron Long killed eight people in Atlanta, Georgia. Six of them were Asian women.  The case has sparked outcry online with many believing this to be the most deadly anti-Asian hate crime to date as a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes surge in the U.S. But was the shooter’s atrocious acts really a hate crime? I set out to find out for myself whether this violent act should be considered a hate crime and I concluded it should be.

The argument against the shooting being considered a hate crime mainly focuses on the shooter’s testimony himself. He claims that his wrongdoing was not racially motivated but was influenced by sex addiction. The shooter claims that the Spa’s were a source of temptation.

Robert Aaron Long was a devoutly religious man. He was a Southern Baptist. He was also a sex addict. Now don’t get me wrong. I do not mean to humanize this man. The only people that deserve to be humanized are the victims in this case. But in the case of the law what may determine part of the punishment is whether or not it is a hate crime. And to determine if it was a hate crime you have to know the motivation behind the man’s acts. 

What is a hate crime though? A hate crime is not hating someone. It is not an offensive joke. It is, according to the FBI, a crime committed out of hate against a group or person. One survivor reported that Robert Aaron Long shouted, “I’m going to kill all Asians.” The murderer also drove right past a strip club to target an Asian-owned Spa. 

Even if this wasn’t racially motivated many experts still believe this could be considered a hate crime. Why? Because the crime was targeted against women. Robert Aaron Long struggled with sex addiction so he decided to take out his hate on women who he thought were “tempting” him. The point is that regardless of how you frame it Robert Aaron Long committed a hate crime. 

But why does it matter if it is considered a hate crime? Because the sentencing may be harsher depending on whether it was considered a hate crime. Personally, I hope Robert Aaron Long gets the harsher sentence possible. It is easy for us to say this is just another mass shooting because they, unfortunately, happen so much nowadays. But the people killed were real people. The victims were Soo Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.