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Thousands rally in Atlanta in response to spa shootings

Flowers lie outside Gold Spa, one of the sites of deadly shootings at three different spas, in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, March 19, 2021. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI
Flowers lie outside Gold Spa, one of the sites of deadly shootings at three different spas, in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, March 19, 2021. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

March 20 (UPI) -- Thousands of people marched downtown Atlanta Saturday for a "Stop Asian Hate" rally in response to a shooting rampage that killed eight people at three spas earlier this week.

Demonstrators gathered at Liberty Plaza and then marched through the streets of Atlanta from the Capitol past the CNN center.

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Speakers at the rally included Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen and civil rights activist Rev. William Barber.

"He shot and killed eight people, six of them being Asian women, at close range in the head," Nguyen said. "No matter how you want to spin it the facts remain the same. This was an attack on the Asian community."

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On Tuesday a gunman opened targeted three Asian-owned spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight and injuring one.

Authorities released the names of the victims Friday. They are: Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; and Paul Andre Michels, 54.

Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, survived the shooting, but was in critical care, according to his family.

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A GoFundMe page created by Grant's son has raised more than $2 million.

Randy Park, 23, created a fundraiser to help cover basic living expenses for himself and his younger brother following their mother's death.

"This is simply a change in my life," Park wrote in an update on GoFundMe Thursday. "I don't even think I have a proper grasp on how much this is. I've never had a good understanding how much money was worth but every cent of it will be used only in pure necessity. I will live the rest of my days grateful for what has essentially given my family a second chance."

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In his initial post Park wrote that he feared he and his brother would have to move in order to save money, and that his priority was putting his mother to rest.

The fundraiser created by Park is one of several created to assist those affected by the shooting, and GoFundMe has created a landing page with links to fundraisers for victims' families as well as a fund the site has created to support organizations that combat racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Police have charged Robert Aaron Long, 21, with murder in connection with the shootings.

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Long has denied the crime was racially motivated, instead blaming a sex addiction.

Mental health professionals have pointed out that sex addiction isn't an accepted psychiatric diagnosis, though some individuals exhibit compulsive sexual behavior likely linked to other disorders, and others may seek treatment for sex addiction because they feel guilt or shame about normal sexual behavior or inclinations.

On Friday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which was introduced days before the shootings and which would increase Justice Department oversight of hate crimes related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers at that time cited a February report from Stop AAPI Hate saying that between March 19, 2020, and December 31, 2020, Stop AAPI Hate received over 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate incidents from 47 states and the District of Columbia -- many involving scapegoating for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mourners gather in Atlanta after deadly shootings

Juilianna Chen mourns outside Gold Spa, one of the three sites where a total of eight people were shot dead last week in Atlanta. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

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