NBC News: Why Atlanta spa shooter’s Asian ‘acquaintances’ can’t tell us much about his racial biases
By Kimmy Yam/NBC News
Although a Georgia prosecutor declared this week that no racial bias was involved in the Atlanta-area spa shootings in March, experts say interviews with the suspect’s Asian “acquaintances” prove little about Robert Aaron Long’s outlook on Asian Americans.
Long, who pleaded guilty to four murders that took place in Cherokee County and received four life sentences in a plea deal, told authorities he was motivated by his sex addiction. Yet the majority of his eight victims were Asian women.
Stanley Mark, a senior staff attorney for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights organization, said that in cases like this, prosecutors and police must primarily weigh the “moment of the incident itself.” In investigating crimes for racial bias, particularly from a political standpoint, it’s routine to look into the suspect’s background and gather information from his personal emails, for example. However, that’s not sufficient to make a determination about his behavior at the time of the shooting.
“It doesn’t matter what the DA says. Politically, they can whitewash and say it’s not racially motivated,” Mark said. “We as Asian Americans — we know what it was.”