Vice President Kamala Harris speaks as U.S. President Joe Biden listens during a press conference on the American Rescue Plan in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to meet with Asian American leaders in Atlanta on Friday in the wake of the shooting rampage that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
The president and vice president are also scheduled to meet with experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for an update on the Covid pandemic.
The Atlanta visit, the pair’s first joint trip since taking office, was originally part of a national tour touting the passage of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package. The White House announced Thursday it would postpone the scheduled political event in the wake of the deadly shootings and shift focus to rising discrimination and violence against Asian Americans.
The meeting with Asian American state legislators and community advocates will be at Emory University, where the president will deliver remarks Friday afternoon.
The president will “offer his support for the [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community in Georgia and across the country and talk about his commitment to combating xenophobia, intolerance and hate,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Biden on Thursday ordered U.S. flags on federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff in memory of the victims of the Atlanta-area shootings.
The suspect’s motive is under investigation, law enforcement officials said.
“Whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans are very concerned, because as you know I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans, and it’s troubling,” Biden said Wednesday.
Harris, the country’s first Asian American vice president, also commented on the attacks on Wednesday.
“It is tragic. Our country, the president and I and all of us, we grieve for those lost,” Harris said. “I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people.”
Biden and Harris are also expected to meet with voting rights advocate and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams during their Atlanta visit, a White House official told NBC News.
The official said Abrams has “played a leading role in voting access and voter protection, and she will be an important partner in taking action on this important issue moving forward.”
Abrams is widely credited for her years-long voter mobilization efforts that fueled Democratic wins in Georgia during the November presidential and January Senate runoff elections.
The president and vice president’s meeting with Abrams comes as civil rights activists in Georgia push back on voting restrictions proposed by Republican state legislators. The activists are urging Biden and Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation, like the “For the People Act” introduced in the Senate on Wednesday.