Following the March 16 shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors and spas that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, the public needs to know more about Georgia police agencies’ responses.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jay Baker’s response to the killing requires particular scrutiny. At a press conference the day after the shootings, Baker described the shooter as having a “really bad day” and denied a racial motivation for the attacks, sparking national outrage especially within the Asian American community. Later, news outlets reported that Baker himself had personal Facebook posts promoting xenophobic COVID-19-themed T-shirts. Since then, the Fulton County District Attorney has said that the killings were indeed racially motivated.
CREW has requested records from Cherokee County, Fulton County, Atlanta, and Georgia agencies about any repercussions or investigations that Baker has faced, as well as any policies on the identification and investigation of potential hate crimes, including crimes motivated by the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.
The records requested could reveal how government officials at all levels have responded to incidents of anti-Asian violence and the extent of anti-Asian bias in the law enforcement involved in cases like this. While preventing tragedies like the Atlanta shooting ultimately requires more comprehensive measures, there is also an urgent need for accountability for the police response to these incidents, which requires more transparency around bias and racism incidents.