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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Asian American leaders in Atlanta Friday after eight people were killed, including six Asian women.
The meeting with Asian American lawmakers and community advocates took place at Emory University, where the president will be speaking on Friday afternoon.
Earlier on Friday, Biden called on Congress to pass hate crime law to tackle increasing violence against Asian Americans.
The Atlanta visit, the couple’s first trip together since taking office, was originally part of a national tour that touted passage of the $ 1.9 trillion Covid aid package. The White House announced Thursday that it would postpone the planned political event after the deadly shootings and focus on increasing discrimination and violence against Asian Americans.
The President will “show his support for that [Asian American and Pacific Islander] Community in Georgia and across the country and speak about its commitment to combating xenophobia, intolerance and hatred, “White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday.
Biden on Thursday ordered the US flags on federal buildings to be lowered to half the staff in memory of the victims of the gunfight in the Atlanta area.
The suspect’s motive is being investigated, police officers said.
“Whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans are very concerned because, as you know, I’ve been talking about the brutality against Asian Americans and it’s worrying,” Biden said on Wednesday.
Harris, the country’s first Asian-American vice president, also spoke about the attacks on Wednesday.
“It’s tragic. Our country, the President and I and we all mourn the lost,” Harris said. “I want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has terrified, shocked and outraged everyone.”
The President and Vice-President will also meet with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information on the Covid pandemic.
Biden and Harris are also expected to meet with proxy and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams during their visit to Atlanta, a White House official told NBC News.
The official said Abrams “played a leading role in accessing voting and protecting voters, and she will be an important partner in taking important action in this important area in the future.”
Abrams is widely credited for her years of electoral mobilization efforts that fueled Georgia’s democratic victories in the November presidential runoff and January Senate runoff.
The President and Vice President meeting with Abrams comes as civil rights activists in Georgia roll back voting restrictions proposed by Republican lawmakers. The activists are calling on Biden and Congress to pass federal voting rights, such as the For the People Act introduced in the Senate on Wednesday.