Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo is speaking out about hate crimes against all races following shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors on Tuesday night.
Eight people were killed in the attacks including six women of Asian descent. It sent terror through the Asian American community that is already experiencing a surge in hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Koo speaks out about Asian hate crime
Koo shared the remarks about it on his Instagram page and the Falcons shared a graphic with them to its own social accounts.
His full post:
"I am deeply saddened by the events that took place in Atlanta yesterday and although there is no definitive answer yet on what this investigation will bring, I feel now is the time to address the rise in hate crimes against ALL races over the last few years.
"As an Asian American, I have heard the jokes and name calling. I often dealt with it by ignoring what was said and minding my own business. I don’t have all the answers, but I realize now more than ever that this is an issue that needs to be addressed and that ignoring it won’t help us do that. I know this one post won’t solve the problem, but I hope to help raise awareness on hate crimes against all."
Koo was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to Ridgewood, New Jersey, at the age of 12. His soccer talents led him to football and he earned a full scholarship to Georgia Southern University. He became the fourth Korean American player in NFL history when he took the field for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017. Koo earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2020 and re-signed with the Falcons earlier this week. He's one of the best kickers currently in the league.
Sports world reacts to Atlanta shootings
Jeremy Lin has been speaking out in previous weeks about racism in the Asian community. He said in February a player called him "coronavirus" during a game. He called the shootings "heartbreaking" on Wednesday morning in a tweet and wrote directly to his Asian American family to "please take time to grieve but know you're loved, seen and IMPORTANT."
LeBron James, Trae Young, Dwyane Wade and others in the NBA community also spoke out.
Incidents of hatred and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are on the rise in the U.S., per studies done by Stop AAPI Hate and the Pew Research Center. The increase in racial slurs, jokes, harassment and assault have come during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Atlanta on Wednesday, police arrested and charged a white gunman, Robert Aaron Long, with murder for the shootings. He told police the attack was not racially motivated and claimed he had a "sex addiction" he was lashing out about, per the Associated Press.
Authorities are investigating and sheriff Frank Reynolds said it's too early to tell if it was racially motivated.
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