ATLANTA — Outrage over the mass shootings at metro Atlanta spas continued at the state capitol Thursday, where minority and Asian lawmakers spoke out against the violence, calling for all Georgians to stand with them against hatred and racism.
"We are devastated by the acts that have been committed," said Stephanie Cho, the Executive Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta.
"The last two days have been terrible for our community," she added.
Cho and State Rep. Bee Nguyen said they want people to speak honestly about the attack that killed eight people, including six Asian women.
"This was a violent and brutal act," Nguyen said. "One that is based on misogyny, gender-based violence and lax gun laws in the state of Georgia."
Nguyen said she wasn't surprised some of the victims' identities were not released.
"We know their vulnerability makes them targets, because when they go missing and when they die, it will not incite the same kinds of rage, and they won't be treated with the same humanity," she said.
Criminologist Dr. Alex del Carmen has studied violent crime for more than 20 years, and said there may be a reason the killer chose minority female victims.
"He sees vulnerability in women," he theorized. "They're less likely to be armed, they're less likely to fight back. So, the ultimate surge for this killer is control over the victim."
He said he doesn't believe the suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, who is white, was driven by sex addiction.
"I just simply, to be honest, don't buy it. I don't buy it," del Carmen said.
"I was a little surprised that law enforcement was using that type of language - sex addiction - at the time this person was arrested, so close to the time of arrest," he continued. "It takes weeks and months for law enforcement to be able to establish the M.O. - modis operani - and interview victims, people who knew him."
Del Carmen said just because Long said he didn't target people based on race doesn't mean it's true.
"To take a killer's word, and repeat those words that he is telling law enforcement, is like saying, 'we can trust him because he only killed x amount of people," he said.
Ngyuen, the state representative, said she agrees it needs to be investigated further.
"So, if the Cherokee County (Sheriff's Office) find no racial basis for the killing, because they're taking the perpetrator's word for it ... he still attacked women, and that's a hate crime," she argued.
The statistics about crime against women globally are alarming.
According to the World Health Organization, 1-in-3 women are subjected to physical or sexual violence at some point in their life, and studies show violence disproportionately affects women who are low- and lower-middle-income and minorities.
The people who spoke in support of those victims Thursday said it will not diminish their humanity.
"We stand proud," Cho said. "We still are a little scared and shaken, (but) we stand resilient."