Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that the “symbolism” of hate crime charges in the Georgia shooting is important despite the charges adding only two years to a criminal’s sentence.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Bottoms what she would say to the people asking how we know that the Atlanta shooting was a hate crime.
Bottoms argued that the suspect in the shooting, who claimed that he had targeted certain massage parlors because of his sex addiction, could not be taken at his word because he was a mass murderer. (RELATED: ‘It’s About Violence’: Don Lemon Slams Chip Roy For ‘Racist,’ ‘Bigoted’ Rhetoric)
Instead, she said that because his victims were primarily Asian women, his actions would fit the Georgia definition of a hate crime.
“When you look at the definition of a hate crime in Georgia, it’s not just based on race, it can also be based on sex,” Bottoms said. “And he targeted Asian massage parlors, in his own words – if you can believe the word of a mass murderer – because of some sexual addiction that he had, and he targeted women.”
“So I think that in and of itself speaks to the definition of a hate crime in Georgia,” the mayor added.
A Tuesday shooting left eight people dead after a man attacked three different massage parlors in Atlanta. Six of the eight shooting victims were Asian, and seven were women. 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, the suspect in the shootings, said that he targeted the massage parlors because of a “sex addiction.”
Bottoms said that she hopes Long is charged with a hate crime despite the shooter’s claims about his motives.
“But the reality is this, Chris, the stiffer penalties will come along with a murder conviction, with murder convictions on several counts,” Bottoms said. “In Georgia, the penalties, as I’ve read it, for hate crimes are only an additional two years for felonies.”
“But I do think the symbolism of him being charged with a hate crime is important,” she added. “And I do hope that’s what prosecutors will decide to do.”