The Asian American Foundation hosted a vigil in Lower Manhattan Wednesday night to pay homage to those lost to anti-Asian hatred and intra-community violence.
The organization held the event in Union Square Park and aimed to create a safe space for the public to grieve over recent tragedies such as the Monterey Park shooting, which left 11 dead during a Lunar New Year celebration.
Crowds gathered after dark to listen to local leaders and elected officials speak at a podium set up in the park. Speakers discussed coping with trauma—from racist assaults to living the Asian experience in America—to the spate of bias attacks.
“What’s happening throughout our country is not okay; this is not normal. Nobody should get shot at a dance party, nobody should get shot at work, nobody should get shoved off a train platform, no one should die in their own apartment, and nobody should die in the street calling for their mother,” Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director at Asian American Federation said.
Yoo referenced the tragic murders of Christina Yuna Lee who was stabbed to death inside her Chinatown home and Michelle Alyssa Go who was pushed in the path of a train in Times Square last year. Followed by a spate of anti-Asian hate crimes, this has left many feeling enraged, downtrodden, and fearful. Many Asian New Yorkers have come forward, stating that they are afraid, according to Councilmember Christopher Marte whose district includes Chinatown.
“Almost a dozen people come to my office a week and tell us that they are scared. We get seniors who say they can’t go out and do tai chi because they don’t want to be alone,” Marte said.
In addition to creating a safe space, the event also looked to offer healing through musical performances. Moreover, the evening aimed to celebrate those lives lost while hoping to raise awareness and prevent bigoted attacks from happening again.