'Our silence is complicity' -Biden on xenophobia

A 21-year-old man has been charged with murdering eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at three spas in and around Atlanta on Tuesday, rattling Asian Americans already grappling with a rise in hate crimes directed at them since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Speaking at an event at Emory University on Friday, Biden and Harris said they would speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination.

Harris, the first U.S. Vice President of Asian American descent, said on Friday that Asian Americans have been attacked and scapegoated. Biden said, "it's the coronavirus. Full stop."

Video Transcript

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Asian-Americans have been attacked and scapegoated. People who are perceived as Muslim know what it was like to live in our country after 9/11. For the last year, we've had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian-Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Whatever the motivation, we know this. Too many Asian-Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying. Waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake. They've been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They've been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.

Documented incidents against-- of hate against Asian-Americans have seen a skyrocketing spike over the last year, let alone the ones that happened to never get reported. We're learning again what we've always known. Words have consequences.

It's the coronavirus. Full stop. 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. It's often met with silence. 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.

My heart goes out to all, all the family members who lost someone in those horrific shootings on Tuesday. I know they feel that like there's a black hole in their chest they're being sucked into and things will never get better. But our prayers are with you and I assure you the one you lost will always be with you. Always be with you.

And the day will come when their memory brings a smile to your lips before it brings tears to your eye. May God bless all those families. May God protect our troops. Thank you very much.