By Alex Cordero
The recent mass shootings in Georgia, where a man killed six Asian women and two others, have caused a great amount of grief and sorrow in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Organizations across the San Gabriel Valley answered the national call to action against anti-Asian violence with a vigil in Monterey Park, one of the many events nationwide.
SGV Progressive Action, a grassroots collective in the San Gabriel Valley was the leading organization behind the event. Speakers focused on unity and the importance of collaborating with other organizations against white supremacy, systematic racism and violence.
“Structural violence kills. Poverty is violence. Homelessness is violence. Not having quality healthcare and education is violence. Splitting up families, deportation and incarceration is violence. Forcing people to work in unsafe conditions and risk death during a pandemic is violence. Enough is enough.” said Amy, emcee of ceremonies representing SGV Progressive Action.
Hate crimes against AAPI residents have been on the rise since the pandemic began but recently, they have become more violent and deadly.
“Within our own community we feel pretty safe; however, it has become more common where we learn about people experiencing uncomfortable situations. Our community is very traditional. We don’t really talk about uncomfortable situations very much; we normally are taught to keep our mouths shut and work hard. And I think we don’t necessarily need to change that but at least we can get more involved in raising more awareness,” shared Aries Zhueng, a five-year resident of Monterey Park, when asked if she has experienced incidents of racism in her community.
Zhueng continued, “In my opinion, a lot of people don’t even know what we are going through outside of our Asian communities. But recently, all of this [racist violence] has been rising so much that we are worried for our close family. It doesn’t matter where they live because it is happening across the entire nation, we have families coast to coast. We just have to do what we can to raise awareness and stand up for each other, especially against hatred and racism.”
According to the Los Angeles Almanac, Monterey Park’s Asian population was estimated to be at 67 percent in the 2017 Census. Out of the 49 U.S. cities and communities with Asian majority populations in the nation, 13 San Gabriel Valley communities — including cities like Rosemead, Arcadia, Temple City and South Pasadena, to name a few — make up the largest concentration of any U.S. county.
Congresswoman Judy Chu participated in the nationwide day of action and healing. Recently, Chu was a guest speaker at a couple of rallies in Koreatown and in Alhambra. She also led a delegation to Georgia where she visited one of the businesses where the killer began his mass shootings.
She acknowledges that current laws are not suited for the current rise in hate crimes happening across the nation against APPI communities, and that is why the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which she chairs, is pressuring Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the No Hate Act. Both bills provide resources needed to respond to hate crimes to keep communities safe.
The vigil allowed residents to gather and honor the victims who were killed in Georgia. Amy reminded everyone in attendance to stand up and speak out against hate crimes
“White supremacy seeks to divide and diminish us, take power from us and silence us. Today and every day, we chose to not be silenced. Today and every day, we speak up and take action. We need to be united and build multi-racial solidarity here in the San Gabriel Valley.”