On March 16, Robert Aaron Long (21) was arrested for the death of eight people—six of whom were of Asian descent—after going on a shooting rampage at three spas in Atlanta. Due to the ethnicity of majority of the victims, the incident is being hailed as a hate crime towards Asians during a time when such crimes are on the rise because of COVID-19.
Jay Baker, a Georgia sheriff spokesman, has recently gone under fire for the statements he made during a joint news conference with the Atlanta Police Department regarding the mass shooting.
When explaining the motive behind the crimes, Baker claimed that Long was experiencing a “really bad day.”
Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.
— Jay Baker, Georgia Sheriff Spokesman
“Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did” — a law enforcement official explains Robert Aaron Long’s decision to kill 8 people in a strange manner pic.twitter.com/u0zFcqjbNK
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 17, 2021
His statement received heavy criticism on social media, with many calling him out for his dismissive explanation of an act that left eight innocent people dead.
I’m actually really upset of how casual & dismissive this law enforcement officer makes the murder of 8 people sound.
An officer casually explaining “Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did” is like the police explaining that Jeffrey Dahmer got hungry.
— Alison Greene (@GrassrootsSpeak) March 17, 2021
You know who it was a really, really bad day for? The eight people and their families who this man killed
— Jaynie’s Got a Bun (@FreeGirlNowNYC) March 17, 2021
Really, REALLY shitty way of saying “this is domestic terrorism caused by a white supremacist who was radicalized by a former president and the party he’s affiliated with.”
— Joe (@joesmith628) March 17, 2021
After Baker’s statement spread online, netizens uncovered his past social media posts that promote racism towards Asians. In a March 30 Facebook post, he shared photos of a shirt with the design “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.”
Just a few days later on April 2, he recommended the shirts once again, this time with the caption, “Get yours while they last.”
Hey Captain Jay Baker with Cherokee Country Sheriff’s Office… this you? pic.twitter.com/1pTlwSlYZQ
— Rich Phelps (@RichPhelps) March 17, 2021
The rise in Asian hate crimes marked with this incident has spurred online and offline protests, with many reminding the police that racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are not the same as “having a bad day.”