Biden mentions spa shootings in address with victim’s son in virtual attendance

March 31, 2021 Norcross - A tear runs down the cheek of Robert Peterson, younger son of one of Atlanta spas shooting victims, Yong Ae Yue, as he recalls his late mother in Norcross on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
March 31, 2021 Norcross - A tear runs down the cheek of Robert Peterson, younger son of one of Atlanta spas shooting victims, Yong Ae Yue, as he recalls his late mother in Norcross on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The son of slain Atlanta spa shooting victim Yong Ae Yue was the virtual guest of a California congresswoman during President Joe Biden’s address to Congress on Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-California and Yue’s son, Robert Peterson, discussed the metro Atlanta massacre and the larger issue of anti-Asian violence during a Facebook Live session this week.

“Together we will be watching President Biden and I truly hope that he can address the anti-Asian hate crimes and what happened in Georgia during his speech so that all of America will know that he is taking this so very seriously,” Chu said.

About an hour into his address, Biden mentioned the mass shooting incidents in the metro Atlanta area and touted the recent passing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, a bill meant to fight anti-Asian discrimination. The president dedicated several minutes of his speech to what he called the “epidemic of gun violence.”

“I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well,” Biden said. “No amendment is absolute,” he added.

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Peterson and his brother, Elliott Peterson, recently sat down for an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to talk about their mother. Yue, 63, always seemed to have a smile on her face, was exceedingly generous and loved cooking Korean meals for family and friends, her sons said.

The Petersons also discussed what it was like to grow up both Black and Asian-American. Yue met her former husband, Mac Peterson, who is Black, in 1976 when he was stationed at a U.S. Army base south of Seoul. She had been living in Norcross at the time of the shootings.

ExploreSpa shooter killed a compassionate, generous woman, her sons say

During the Facebook Live with Chu, Robert Peterson, 38, a sociology professor, said his mother was very conscious about race relations, particularly when it had to do with her two sons.

“When she heard people speak negatively about African-Americans, she would remind them, ‘Hey, don’t do that. I have two Black children.’” Peterson said. “I would do that as well. If I would hear people that I would be around say negative things about Asian-Americans, I would say, ‘Hey, look, you can’t talk like that. My mother’s Asian.’”

For this reason, he added, “We’re going to need more people to not just be bystanders but to intervene during racial discrimination. When we hear these things that’s what allows this perpetuation to happen.”

Yue was one of eight people shot and killed March 16 at three spas, one in Cherokee County and two in Atlanta. She also was one of six victims of Asian heritage.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, stands charged with all eight murders. After his arrest, he said he killed women at the spas because he was addicted to sex and wanted to eliminate the temptation, law enforcement said.

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