Michigan leaders speak out on continued violence against Asian Americans
Activists Jasmine Rivera (left) and Rebeka Islam during a Madison Heights vigil on Saturday remembering victims in the January mass shootings in California. | Rising Voices photo
Michigan leaders and residents are continuing to mourn those lost to more violence against the Asian-American community.
Civil rights groups and government officials participated in a public vigil on Saturday to remember victims involved in mass shootings last month in Monterey Park near Los Angeles and Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Attending the event were state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Oakland County Executive David Coulter, members of the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission and representatives from the Vietnamese American Association of Michigan.
“I’m hoping that we can use this crisis as an opportunity to continue to come together to continue to celebrate Lunar New Year and really make this the year that we take action finally,” said Chang, the first Asian American woman elected to the Michigan Legislature.
Authorities said that a 72-year-old man opened fire on Jan. 21 at a Lunar New Year celebration, a major holiday in the Asian community, and at Star Ballroom Dance Studio near Monterey Park, killing 11 people and injuring 10 others. Tran, according to a USA Today report died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a strip mall, law enforcement sources said.
On Jan. 23, seven people were killed in shootings at two northern California mushroom farms near the city of Half Moon Bay. A 66-year-old man has been accused of the killings.
“Eighteen Americans lost their lives and more were injured due to senseless acts of violence. We are heartbroken over the lives lost, and we mourn with their families who now face the difficult hardships — known well by too many — of losing a loved one to gun violence. Our community needs our support. Our voices deserved to be heard. Our emotions need to be understood and felt, and our community will unite as one …” said Rebeka Islam, APIAVote-MI executive director.
Jasmine Rivera, Rising Voices co-executive director, noted that the Lunar New Year should have been “a time for celebration, not violence.”
“All Americans should have the right to gather and celebrate their culture or go to work and school without fear,” said Rivera. “The loss of family and loved ones to mass shootings is a profound trauma that is becoming far too common across the country, with the Michigan Asian American community having experienced this first hand at Oxford High School. This gathering is an expression of solidarity with the communities in California, a time for collective grief, a defiant act of unity for Michigan Asian American communities and an opportunity for Michiganders to find health resources and dialogue with community leaders around this heartbreaking issue that touches us all.”
Rivera told the Advance that the California shootings “speak to the larger marginalization of the persons and communities involved that help push individuals to violence.”
“The rise of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, the loss of security, increase in isolation and lack of access to social and mental services for elders are clear factors,” said Rivera. “… It was a matter of time.”
Islam said the “early politicizing of COVID-19, the AAPI community has experienced an “alarming increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.”
“When we, as a society — as a multicultural America — observe that yet another mass shooting is taking place, we are experiencing a great and collective trauma,” said Islam. “One can argue that the decision in itself to inflict violence upon a group of people at large, is an act of hate.
“While there is a time for analyzing the situation to better understand the circumstances, our priority and focus right now are on protecting and safeguarding our communities. It is up to all of us to stand together for a safer, kinder and more peaceful America, as all of us proudly choose to live in, realize our dreams and build a better world here.”
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