The Atlanta murders and the capitalist state

Protesters took to the streets of Washington, D.C., March 17.

The Socialist Unity Party/Partido por el Socialismo Unido and Struggle-La Lucha newspaper condemn in the strongest possible terms the racist, sexist, fascist shootings in the Atlanta area that targeted mainly Asian women, but also Asian and Latinx men. 

We express warm solidarity and class love to the families, friends and communities of the victims of this despicable attack: Delaina Ashley Yuan, Xiajie Yan, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, and four others whose names have not been released at the time of writing. It is known that six of the eight people killed were women of Asian descent. A ninth victim, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, is in the hospital fighting for his life.

The killer, a 21-year-old white man named Robert Long, claims that his rampage was rooted in a “sex addiction,” and that he attacked three spas in order to “eliminate a temptation.” Georgia police officials are backing this as an excuse for mass murder. But to many, it’s clear that this violence is rooted in both patriarchal subjugation of women and, in particular, the racist fetishization of immigrant women. 

It is crucial to understand the role of the state not just in these particular killings, but also the monstrous string of racist, fascist killings leading up to this. These include the murder perpetrated by, to name only a few: Dylann Roof, who murdered nine Black attendees at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.; Robert Bowers, who murdered eleven Jewish attendees of the Tree of Live synagogue in Pittsburgh; Derek Chauvin, who murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis; Darren Wilson, who murdered Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Mo., and; Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, who murdered Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. 

Like many of these racist murderers, Robert Long was apprehended and detained by police without incident. Police took Dylann Roof for a cheeseburger after he murdered nine innocent Black people. In contrast, the Black victims of police violence George Floyd, Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor were unarmed and not charged with anything.

The murders in Atlanta must be seen in the context of former President Donald Trump’s viciously racist anti-immigrant bile, in both words and policy, as well as his constant attempts to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on the Chinese government. President Joe Biden has continued this anti-China sentiment by escalating the Cold War-style provocations against China, which has also contributed to a rise in attacks on Asian Americans and Asian immigrants. According to a report by Stop AAPI Hate, nearly 3,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been documented since last March. 

The shootings must also be seen as a continuation of centuries of U.S. imperialist aggression in Asian countries. In the pursuit of profit, Washington perpetrated some of the most gruesome acts of inhumanity in history — bombing northern Korea flat, dropping two atom bombs on Japan, pillaging Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and committing genocide in the Philippines, only to name a few. Similar to its operations in Latin America, U.S. involvement creates refugees and forced migration. Often, migrants and refugees seek a better life in the United States only to be met with racist violence and exploitation. 

In this context, it is impossible to deny the complicity of the capitalist state in racist vigilante killings. As we saw in Trump’s attempted coup on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., cops and fascists go hand in hand. Capt. Jay Baker, the Cherokee County sheriff’s spokesman, made this abundantly clear when he claimed killer Long was just having “a really bad day.” Baker had previously made social media posts blaming “CHY-NA” for the coronavirus pandemic.

The only answer to this is working class unity, proletarian internationalism, and the struggle for socialism.