President Joe Biden condemned violence against Asian Americans Friday, saying the Atlanta mass shootings should remind Americans to never be silent about racism he says is hiding in "plain sight."
"Because our silence is complicity," President Biden said. "We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act."
The 20-minute speech followed a meeting with Asian American state legislators and other leaders in Atlanta. It comes just days after a white gunman killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.
Vice President Kamala Harris echoed the president's sentiment, saying that the facts of racism are clear - even if motive of the shooter remains undetermined.
"The president and I will not be silent," she said. "We will not stand by. We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination wherever and whenever it occurs."
Georgia state Rep. Marvin Lim, who was in the meeting with the president and vice president, said the gathering covered far more than policy. He said, “We really talked about the grief people are feeling, the fear people are feeling, the possible responses to that."
Before leaving Washington, President Biden expressed his support for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. It would provide resources to Asian American communities and strengthen the government's reporting and response to anti-Asian violence - which has spiked during the pandemic.