Emory University hosted President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday afternoon, March 19. The president and vice president were in Atlanta to attend a series of meetings, including a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a conversation with leaders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
Emory hosted the meeting with community leaders, which addressed hate and violence against Asians and Asian Americans in the wake of the March 16 shootings at three Atlanta-area spas. After the meeting, Harris and Biden spoke to the nation from Emory’s Convocation Hall.
Introducing Biden, Harris decried the “heinous act of violence — violence that has no place in the state of Georgia or in the United States of America.”
“Whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear: Six out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent. Seven were women. The shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans. The shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans have risen dramatically over the last year and more,” Harris said.
Biden said it was “heart-wrenching” to listen to the leaders’ stories, and he and Harris are being regularly updated on the investigation by the U.S. attorney general and the director of the FBI, working closely with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and local officials.
“The conversation we had today with the AAPI leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. And it’s often met with silence,” Biden said. “That’s been true throughout our history, but that has to change — because our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act.”