MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — About a thousand people gathered Tuesday night for a vigil in honor of the 11 people killed on Lunar New Year’s Eve, a time traditionally of family gatherings and festivities.
Many cried as they spoke of the Monterey Park victims. Many have also expressed bewilderment over the nation’s mass shooting problem, after two separate attacks in California killed 18 people and left communities reeling.
“It was a horrific act of violence, not only against our community, but against our humanity,” Amy Lee, the new treasurer for the city of Monterey Park, told mourners. “I wish I had the words to comfort you, to make you feel safe. I wish I could tell you why. But we may never know.”
Large floral arrangements, wreaths and numerous makeshift candles, balloons and memorials were spread across the small park in front of Monterey Park City Hall, where there is also a memorial for Chinese and American military veterans of World War II. world.
Lee noted that “Mass shootings are happening everywhere at an alarming rate. It’s so easy during this time to get numb. We have to resist the urge to dismiss this as a one-time incident.”
Vice President Kamala Harris is also due to travel to her home state on Wednesday following the two shootings, the White House announced Tuesday as the Biden administration pushes forward plans for legislation to ban assault weapons. . Harris will travel to Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed Saturday at a dance studio.
“We lost 11 people, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles,” Lee said. “These victims were all close to retirement age. It was the time of their lives. They worked so hard as immigrants to build a future, and now was the time to enjoy it.”
Here’s a look at some of Tuesday’s emotional outpourings:
Remembering ‘Mr. Ma’ and her dance studio
Tiffany Leung, 22, a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine, grew up in Monterey Park and took tennis lessons with her daughter Ming Wei Ma, 72, who ran the Star Dance Studio, who was killed by the attacker. She was unable to reach her tennis instructor after what happened, but wanted to pay tribute to both teachers, as Mr. Ma also taught at the studio, Leung said.
Leung stood silently in front of the candle-drenched memorials on Tuesday night, tears in his eyes.
“I’m in disbelief,” she said, noting how safe the community has always felt and how little crime there is. “For this insane act to happen here…and it also comes from our own (community). It’s really hard to put into words.”
The Asian community especially teaches its young people to revere their elders, and young children are taught that it is their duty to care for their aging parents.
“It’s hard to know they’re gone, and they can’t celebrate this new year with their families anymore,” Leung said. “They were just looking to dance. And unfortunately, that was their last dance.”
A “complicated community” remembers its loved ones
Councilman Thomas Wong told mourners that the community refuses to be defined by this hateful event, that Monterey Park is not a place of fear and hate. “It’s a community that so many people have aspired to, from so many diverse places, striving to fulfill their dreams,” Wong said.
Wong read comments from the Phun family, who lost a loved one in the shooting.
“My aunt liked to dance. She also liked to eat and play,” the Phun family said. “Sometimes, I hear, she even tried to do all three at the same time. Just like our community, she was complicated, messy, easy to like, and sometimes hard to understand from the outside.”
The family did not identify the aunt by name, but noted that she was a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee from Vietnam who saw herself in the Asian American community of Monterey Park and “searched and found other people like her”.
“It took more than 30 years before she, my uncles and my cousins could migrate to the United States to be reunited with our family, who were refugees who fled Vietnam in the 70s and 80s. Last month, my aunt found my cousin, her daughter, whom she had not seen in the years since they migrated to different countries. My cousin came to see her mother, and now to bury her.
The family noted that their story “of war, migration, loss, love, hardship, hard work, pain and joy” is echoed by many others throughout the San Valley community. Gabriel.
“The stories we all share make her not only my aunt, she is also yours. The uncles who were also brutally murdered weren’t just my uncles, they are yours too. They are our fathers, mothers , brothers, sisters, they are our family.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hundreds mourn and honor victims of mass Monterey Park attack