President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will both sit down Friday with Asian American community leaders in Atlanta, Georgia, White House officials say.
Ike Hajinazarian, the White House regional communications director, announced the meetings, which follow on the heels of a shooting spree that killed six women of Asian decent in the metro-Atlanta area. Biden and Harris’ trip Friday to Atlanta was originally part of the White House’s “Help is Here” tour, celebrating the president signing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law.
NEWS: @POTUS and @VP will meet with Asian-American leaders during their visit to Atlanta on Friday to offer support to the community after the shooting deaths of eight people, six who were Asian women, at spas around the metro area. https://t.co/AnV13aCIvY
— Ike Hajinazarian (@ikehaji46) March 18, 2021
The White House declined responses to inquiries Thursday on who else from outside the administration would take part in the meetings. (RELATED: Biden Says Atlanta Massage Shootings Are ‘Very Troubling’ But He’s Still ‘Waiting For An Answer’ On Shooter’s Motive)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated at Wednesday’s briefing that Biden had ordered Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and senior adviser Cedric Richmond to host listening sessions on the rise in attacks against Asian Americans.
Biden himself called the killings “very troubling on Wednesday,” yet stopped short of outright declaring them hate crimes.
“The investigation is ongoing,” he said ahead of his virtual meeting with Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin, “and the question of motivation is still to be determined.”
“Whatever the motivation here I know that Asian Americans are very concerned — because as you know I’ve been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple of months, and I think it is very troubling,” the president continued. “I’m making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer and waiting for an answer as the investigation proceeds from the FBI and from the Justice Department.”
Local law enforcement officials arrested suspect Ryan Aaron Long Tuesday night and told reporters on Wednesday that he was potentially motivated by a “sex addiction” and was planning additional attacks against Florida “porn industry” targets before being arrested Tuesday night.
“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places,” Cherokee County Sheriffs spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said in a statement. “It’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”