As the country continues to reel from the mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight dead, including six Asian American women, another upsetting detail is emerging. The husband of one of the shooting victims, who is Latinx, says that police harassed him following the attack. In an interview with Mundo Hispánico, a Spanish-language news outlet, Mario González claimed he was handcuffed and detained for hours by Cherokee County Sheriff's deputies in relation to the shooting. He also claims he was not made aware of his wife Delaina Ashley Yaun’s death hours after law enforcement officers knew she had been killed.
“Maybe because I’m Mexican, I don’t know,” González told the outlet. “Because the truth is, they treated me badly.” González then showed the outlet the handcuff marks on his arm.
González says the couple decided to visit the spa because his wife was “tired of working so much, she was working every day.” They had finally found a babysitter for their 8-month-old daughter, per additional Jezebel reporting. Yaun was in the spa when 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, a white man, came in and opened fire.
The shooting came after a year of increased hate crimes directed toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In the past year, there have been a reported 3,800 hate crimes against the AAPI community, 68% of which have targeted Asian American women. Authorities have not yet categorized the March 16 mass shooting — which was carried out at three separate Asian-owned spas — as a “hate crime,” despite the shooter targeting Asian businesses. Long blamed his “sex addiction” and claimed he was targeting “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” Police also claimed that Long having a "bad day" was a reason that he shot and killed eight people.
AWKWORD, an artist, activist, and co-founder of Ten Demands For Justice, an organization advocating for the defunding and eventual abolishment of police departments and prisons, tweeted: “If the police response to the Atlanta shooting wasn’t racist enough: Mario Gonzalez, a Latino man, was in the spa where 8 were killed, and — instead of being comforted — was treated as a suspect and handcuffed for 2 hours. His wife was 1 of the women murdered.”
It's horrifying that in the wake of a racially motivated attack, police treated a victim's husband like a criminal — but it's not surprising. This country has a long history of ignoring Black, brown, and Indigenous voices when they experience racism and race-based violence, and even blaming victims for the crimes committed against them. After a man walked into an El Paso, TX, Walmart and murdered 23 people, specifically targeting Latinx people and mirroring the former president's racist, anti-Latinx, and anti-immigrant rhetoric, there were still people who debated whether his motives were racist.
And, Black people continue to be asked to prove the existence of white supremacy and anti-Black sentiments pervasive in this country. One would have hoped, though, that officials would give a little more consideration to a man who had just lost his wife — an experience far worse than just having a "really bad day."