(Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Times) “Families gather for a candlelight vigil to honor those killed in the festival shooting.”
On January 22nd the night of Lunar New Year, an act of hate and violence took place in Monterey Park in Las Angeles, California. A gunman walked into Lae Lae Ballroom and open-fired on a party celebrating Lunar New Year. The assailant took many lives before being stopped by Brandon Tsay, a 26 year-old who is being hailed a hero, at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Alhambra, California 20 minutes later. He fled the scene and was later found to have taken his own life during a police confrontation; their identity has not been released to the public. Currently, there have been eleven victims, all Asian-American, ages ranging from 50 to 70, and has sparked outrage within the country and the Asian-American community. Motivations behind this crime are presently unknown.
Those that have tragically passed include: Ming Wei Ma, 72 years-old and a dance instructor at Star Ballroom Dance Studio; Mymy Nhan, 65 years-old and an avid dancer that spent many years dancing at Monterey Park; Lilan Li, 63 years-old and loved by many; Xiujuan Yu, 57 years-old and had immigrated to the United States in the early 2010’s to create a better future for her family; Valentino Alvero, 68 years-old and a dedicated father and son; Yu-Lun Kao, 72 years-old and a devoted dancer for over a decade; Diana Tom, 70 years-old and a loving grandmother; Muoi Ung, 67 years-old and known and loved at Monterey Park; Hongying Jian, 62 years-old and known as ‘Sister Sunshine’ to most; Chia Ling Yau, 76 years-old and loved by all; and Wen-Tau Yu, 64 years-old and a loving father who was exploring his second career as a pharmacist. GoFundMe’s can be found to support the families who have been affected by the this shooting.
Sadly, acts of violence such as this are not the first that have happened in the United States. During the pandemic, Asian-Americans across the nation were subjected to racism and acts of violence due to racist rhetoric forming around the virus, sparking movements such as Stop Asian Hate. Sue Kim, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies for FAHSS at UMass Lowell and Co-Director of Center for Asian American Studies, was interviewed on the matter, saying, “These recent instances [have] been incredibly traumatic, on top of overall anti-asian racism, anti-asian violence, or violence in the asian community…there’s just so much suffering, violence, and unpredictability that increases nervousness, anxiety and trauma that was already there from Covid-19,”. However, just because the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be getting better, racism and violence against the Asian-American community has not stopped.
This shooting has heightened the ongoing conversation about gun violence in the United States and the ever present racism and violence the Asian-American community has been experiencing even before the events of Covid-19. When asked about her thoughts on this matter, Dean Kim had this to say, “As a country we’re getting way to used to these mass shootings; whether they’re at schools, movie theaters, or any public setting…whether it’s an underrepresented group or people of color or a gay night club or school children—to me the worst thing that can happen, which I feel like is happening, is that we’re getting used to it,”. Even in the new year, this mass shooting isn’t the first to happen. According to GVA (Gun Violence Archive), as of January 24th there have been forty Mass Shootings to strike the United States, and the Lunar New Year celebration marks the 33rd.
There are many things that can be done to support those around you after this traumatic event. Dean Kim says, “Everybody can do something. On an individual level, people can reach out to people and just ask how they’re doing. It doesn’t hurt,”. However, change doesn’t happen overnight; It requires continuous work. She also recommends, “Personally, for people, they can always take the opportunity to learn, such as taking a class, reading a book, and just educating themselves more.” Expanding your own knowledge of the social climate and obtaining a greater understanding of the world around us is a trying feat, but one that needs to be done in order to learn about others struggles and help when we can. There is no time for complacency in matters such as this.
The heart of UMass Lowell students, staff and community go out to the families and victims of this heinous act. Stop Asian Hate.