Protesters heckled and reportedly surrounded New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday at a Union Square vigil held to protest anti-Asian racism and remember victims of the Georgia massage parlor shootings.
“A diverse crowd gathered on 14th Street in Manhattan to demand an end to hate crimes and bias after a lone gunman killed six Asian women and two others in Atlanta-area attacks on Tuesday night,” the New York Post reported.
Attendees lit candles and held signs with phrases such as “Stop Killing Us” and “Stop Asian Hate” written on them.
Video footage shared to Twitter reportedly showed de Blasio being chased before he got into a vehicle and left the event.
Additional video appeared to show protesters heckling the mayor when he addressed the crowd.
“Look at the fear, look at the pain in our communities. We must confront it,” de Blasio said. “The City of New York stands as one with all Asian Americans here in New York City and around the country.”
However, one attendee was heard yelling, “What are you going to do about it?”
During a press conference on Thursday, de Blasio suggested police visits to those accused of “hurtful” behavior in light of anti-Asian American crimes, according to Breitbart News.
The mayor said the NYPD could visit people accused of racism or discrimination, “even if something is not a criminal case.”
Meanwhile, the man accused of killing eight people at the massage parlors in Atlanta reportedly told police the attack was not racially motivated and he potentially had a “sexual addiction,” officials said Wednesday.
The Associated Press (AP) reported:
Officials did not say that Robert Aaron Long, 21, ever went to the parlors where the shootings occurred. They also said he was planning to go to Florida in a plot to attack “some type of porn industry.”
“He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past,” said Sheriff Frank Reynolds, of Cherokee County, where one of the targeted businesses was.
However, Atlanta police said Thursday “nothing is off the table” in the investigation regarding the shootings, including whether the killings were a hate crime.