Grandmothers, friends, mothers, wives. Described by loved ones as fighters, and their rock. Mass shootings in the Atlanta area claimed their futures. Rather than retaliating with hate, the community have rallied together to appeal for peace.
Hundreds joined together in Union Square New York to grieve the loss of their Asian American compatriots and to seek change.
Ravi Reddi, associate director of advocacy and policy at the Asian American Federation and organizer of the vigil stated:
“We’re here because the Asian American community is once again forced to reckon with our vulnerability and our mortality. Within our communities, within our workplaces continually worried that the racist, sexist stereotypes forced upon us may be acted upon violently at any moment. We’re here because this is visceral. Because this is personal for every single one of us”
Gathering for Peace
Of the 8 victims, six were of Asian descent.
John Liu, Queens’ state senator shared experiences in his life where he felt victimized. He recalled instances where he was ridiculed just because of his ethnicity. He noted the past year’s incidents; the vandalization of Asian-owned homes, the boycotting of Asian-owned businesses, and the physical and emotional brutality. The state senator also stated his disappointment over the recent attacks.
“He got out of his car…had his gun and went into an Asian business looking to kill Asians. And then he did it again. Drove to another Asian business to kill more Asians, and then yet a third Asian business to kill Asian Americans. And there’s a question as to whether this is a hate crime? That is absolutely outrageous. This is the kind of thing that continues the violence and attacks against Asian Americans all across this country”
John Liu encouraged members of the community to speak out in order to bring an end to the hate and bigotry being experienced. He acknowledged that by gathering at the vigil, the community were making a difference. The state senator also sought justice as opposed to vengeance.
Andrew Yang, a New York mayoral candidate, joined him in his plight. Though he didn’t speak during the vigil, he was able to say a few words during a press conference at the event’s conclusion.
“I’m thinking about these six women who lost their lives. And one of them I was reading about is a mother of two, and her boys will never see their mother again. It’s sickening, it’s tragic, it’s senseless. These people should still be alive”
Given a voice towards the vigil’s end were members of the public,
“We are standing together because we are sad, we are angry, we are exhausted from the rollercoaster of emotions we’ve all been dealing with.”
In a continued moment of solidarity, the crowd joined a musician in song as she performed at the event’s close.
Photographer Ryan Razon documented the event for i-D: