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Following spa shootings, Atlantans stand in solidarity with Asian community

Events took place from Piedmont Park to the Georgia State Capitol

ATLANTA — As memorials continued to grow outside the spas where eight people were killed Tuesday, thousands turned out for rallies across Atlanta Saturday. 

Atlanta Run Club and Social Fitness ATL partnered with Lululemon and Strava to raise awareness about anti-Asian violence during a Stop Asian Hate walk and run event. The global campaign goes through Sunday and aims to raise more than $50,000 for the shooting victims' families. 

“For us to right now have the platform to really communicate who we are as people and the existence of racism I think is an important thing for the world to know," organizer James Ro said.  “The love, support, and solidarity other communities have poured in really means a lot to me.”

Woodruff Park hosted a Stop AAPI Hate march, which eventually led to the Georgia State Capitol. Thousands crowded in Liberty plaza outside the building, listening to Asian-American lawmakers and community stakeholders.

RELATED: Spa killing spree leaves 8 dead in metro Atlanta; suspect captured

Chants of "stop Asian hate" could be heard, as people walked, drove, and bussed into the event from across Metro Atlanta and beyond. Advocates from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were on hand as well to promote reassurance about reporting targeted crimes against Asian-Americans.

Joey Chen and Xinrui Li, though not related to the victims, felt a connection and decided to pay their respects by laying flowers at the sites where six Asian women were among those killed.

"I never imagined this type of violence would happen right next door, and especially as Asian-Americans, this type of violence just shocked me to the core," Chen said. 

RELATED: Asian American and Pacific Islander state legislators hold conference following tragic shooting

Chen and Li told 11Alive they had been the targets of harassment over the last year, struggling to understand why deadly violence had to occur before awareness took hold. 

“I really appreciate everyone’s attention to our Asian community actually,” Li said. "I’m living in the same neighborhood. I’ve been thinking about me walking on the street and I hope nothing bad like this will happen to me one day. I’m just worried."