(CNN) — Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the recent lethal shootings at a series of spas in the Atlanta area, marking her most formal remarks about the ongoing issue of violence against the Asian American community.
“It is tragic. Our country, the President and I and all of us, we grieve for the loss,” said Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold her office, on Wednesday. “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.”
Eight people were shot dead at three spas in the Atlanta area on Tuesday. Six were Asian women, according to law enforcement officials. The shootings come amid an alarming spike in violence and harassment directed at the Asian American community in recent months.
Some public officials and organizations have raised concerns that ethnicity came into play, but Atlanta Police Department Chief Rodney Bryant said Wednesday morning that it is still too early in the investigation to determine if Tuesday’s shootings are a hate crime.
Harris underscored that the suspect’s motive was not yet clear.
“I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people,” she said during a bilateral meeting with Irish officials commemorating St. Patrick’s Day.
“(K)nowing the increasing level of hate crimes against our Asian American brothers and sisters, we also want to speak out in solidarity with them and acknowledge that none of us should ever be silent in the face of any form of hate,” she added.
Harris has previously spoken about the racism she and her family members in this country have faced.
President Joe Biden said during his arrival at the White House Wednesday morning that he will be addressing the Atlanta tragedy later in the day.
Last week, during a speech marking the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden condemned hate and discrimination toward the Asian American community.
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