Last Saturday was supposed to be a celebratory time for the AAPI community in California. It was the first year Lunar New Year was recognized as a state holiday.
People were also looking forward to the celebrations that were no longer hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the year of the Rabbit, a time for rest and introspection. It’s supposed to be a calmer year. Tragically, the festive time ended abruptly, when a gunman killed 11 people and injured eight in Monterey Park.
It was another attack on the AAPI community that has experienced a major increase in violence and hate over the last several years.
The following day, another gunman killed seven people on farms in Half Moon Bay. The gunman was arrested and is being held without bail.
The string of mass shootings in the state has again brought up the discussion about what more California can do to prevent these tragic events, already having some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
Connie Chung Joe, the CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL), joined “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen, to discuss the recent mass shootings, and what needs to be done to put an end to violence directed toward the AAPI community.
The AJSOCAL advocates for the civil liberties and human rights for Asian Americans. In the wake of the Monterey Park mass shooting, they set up a GoFundMe to help the victims and families. They also have hotlines for people in the community who need help finding social and emotional services.
“For the last, almost three years, we’ve had essentially had a bullseye on our backs,” Chung Joe said. “We’ve seen our community attacked, shot at, killed, and just left to feel like we are not wanted.”
This Lunar New Year celebration Chung Joe says, as it was the first time in a few years that people could come together in-person, and at the time it seemed the violence toward the Asian community was lessening.
“Our community is just left feeling like what has happened again? And just feeling really victimized,” Chung Joe said.
While the motive for the mass shooting is still being investigated, Chung Joe emphasized that whether or not it was hate related, it doesn’t change the effect it has on the AAPI community.
“Regardless of his motive, I think the impact is that our community [sic] as a community we feel like we’ve been really harmed and we’re grieving right now,” Chung Joe said.
California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, yet still has experienced tragic mass shootings recently. Chung Joe says it is now time for action on the federal level.
“I think we need to talk about what does safety look like, but in a way where people don’t feel like okay, I need to take it into my own hands and buy a gun,” Chung Joe said.
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