For Asian Americans, California shootings are 'a series of storms' (2023)

Tworecent mass shootingsAsian-American communities in California — and the rest of the country — faltered.

The shootings, which involved Asian-American victims and perpetrators, were shocking and devastating for a community that still grapples with violence from many of its residents.Members who experienced it during the pandemic.

"These two tragedies in particular have shaken and disturbed many Asian Americans," says James Zarsadiaz, a professor at the University of San Francisco who has written extensively on the history of the San Gabriel Valley, including Monterey Park, where one of the shootings took place. "It's been really hard to process all of this... because for [many] Asian Americans, it's been a back-to-back tragedy over the last few years."

The shootings took place over the course of a few days last week. In Monterey Park, California - a suburb near Los Angeles -A 72-year-old Asian American killed 11 people, all of Asian descent, at a local dance studio on Saturday; he also wounded nine others. The police have yet to identify anyreason for shooting, although they are looking for personal connections the shooter had with the studio's clients.

In Half Moon Bay - a coastal town south of San Francisco - a 66-year-old Asian-American man7 people dead, including Chinese and Latin American agricultural workers on Monday. The suspect worked alongside some of the victims at a mushroom farm in Half Moon Bay and previously worked at a second farm that employed other victims. Police are looking into the attack as a possible "workplace violence" incident, although the investigation is ongoing. In both cases, more information about the victims and the suspects' motivations will be released.

Both shootings took place as the Lunar New Year holiday, a time that is usually a joyous occasion to celebrate with friends and family, was just beginning. Community activists note that the shootings only exacerbated past trauma, exploited existing fears of anti-Asian violence, and raised concerns about gun control and mental health. These shootings follow anti-Asian attacks that have escalated in recent years as Asian Americans have been used as scapegoats for the spread of the coronavirus. Between March 2020 and March 2022, the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate received allegations ofnearly 11,000 anti-Asian incidentsincluding physical violence, verbal abuse and property damage.

"I feel like it was just one bout of violence, like one at a time. We've just been through a series of storms," ​​says Chrissy Lau, a history professor at California State University at Monterey Bay who specializes in Asian American studies.

The California shootings were a terrifying 'series of storms'

The shootings have added to the pain and fear Asian Americans have experienced in recent years, activists say.

"It really is about piling them on top of each other," says Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, an organization dedicated to prosecuting anti-Asian violence and harassment. "Each incident becomes another that shakes the community."

For some, early news of the Monterey Park shooting sparked fears of another racist attack on Asian Americans, similar to the violence that has escalated during the pandemic. In the last years,There has been an increase in hate crimesagainst Asian Americans who blame the group for the pandemic. And while politicians have gravitated toward more inflammatory anti-China rhetoric, experts worried that such statements could also inflame xenophobic sentiments and actions.

"There's still a sense of being targeted and scared when you hear about a shooting like this," said Connie Chung Joe, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles.disse a Associated Press.

This fear has been exacerbated by past anti-Asian attacks, including the 2020 stabbing of an Asian family in Midland, Texas.Sam's Club car parkand a mass shooting in 2021several spas in the Atlanta areaEight people were killed, including six women of Asian descent. As more information has come out, however, has come the revelation that suspects are in both of the recent shootings.older asian american mentriggered his own sadness and reflection. Given the limited information about the motives behind these attacks, many in the Asian American community are still trying to weigh up the causes behind them and some of the similarities between the shooters.

"It's for my people and against my people, so it's very sad," said Min Zhou, a professor of sociology and Asian American studies at UCLA.

"He chose to hurt his Asian compatriots, so I think that's an extra layer of injury," adds Kulkarni, Monterey Park's leading scorer.

The shootings shook people's sense of security in both places. Historically, Monterey Park was a "vibrant Asian-American enclave," says Kulkarni, and according to Zarsadiaz, "one of the first suburbs in the United States to have an Asian majority." Since the 1970s, Monterey Park has established itself as "suburban Chinatown" and has become a central middle-class hub with Asian-American restaurants, shopping malls and hangouts.

"I go for dim sum in Monterey Park, play volleyball in Monterey Park, do my shopping in Monterey Park," says Lau, who grew up in the suburban San Gabriel Valley.

"You know, Monterey Park has a lot of cultural value for a lot of Asian Americans because it, in turn, reflects where a lot of us live, or at least a lot of us grew up," says Zarsadiaz.

The violence in a historically safe space for Asian Americans inspired immense sadness and solidarity. "That fear is always there when you go through an incident and such a devastating experience," says Zhou, who said her son's in-laws visited the dance studio where the shooting took place.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's Officepublished the names of the victimsin the Monterey Park shooting, including Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hong Ying Jian, 62; Lilian Li, 63; Mymy Nhan, 65; Muoi Dai Ung, 67; Diana Man Ling Tom, 70; Wen-Tau Yu, 64; Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68; Ming Wei Ma, 72; Yu Lun Kao, 72; and Chia Ling Yau, 76. Many were elderly Asian-Americans who frequented the studio and enjoyed ballroom dancing.

In Half Moon Bay, the gunman targeted agricultural workers at two mushroom farms, including Chinese and Hispanic workers, stoking fear in an already vulnerable community.

Currently, 2,500 to 3,000 farm workers work in Half Moon Bay, a coastal town in Northern die Los Angeles Times. This includes migrant workers and long-term residents, Asian and Hispanic descent, and someundocumented immigrants. Historically, Asian Americans, including Chinese, Japanese and Filipino workers, made up a significant portion of California's agricultural workforce, although their numbers have declined since 1965 when US policies sparked an influx of Asian immigrants in other occupations.

Half Moon Bay Deputy Mayor Joaquin Jimenez said some farm workers are scared to go back to work after this horrific attack, which took place where many workers lived and was witnessed by children returning from school to go to school.

"It's important to humanize who these farm workers are: they are mothers, fathers and uncles," said Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, executive director of ALAS, a nonprofit in Half Moon Bay that advocates for Latino workers.said the San Francisco Chronicle. Agricultural workers have long facedchallenging working conditionsin the state, including low wages, housing overcrowding, and workplace exploitation. Now, adding to these concerns is the fear of deadly violence in the workplace.

Complete information about the Half Moon Bay victims is not yet available, although the names of six of the seven victims have been released by the San Mateo County coroner. They are Zhi Shen Liu, 73; Qi Zhong Cheng, 66; Marciano Jiménez Martinez, 50; Ye Tao Bing, 43; Ai Xiang Zhang, 74; and Jing Zhi Lu, 64.

The shootings have led to calls for a change in policy.

The shootings were followed by an outpouring of support for victims and calls for political change. Members of the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay communities are responding with mutual aid and financial support for victims and their families.

"For us, the focus is what we can do for victims, survivors, their families and community members," says Kulkarni.Die LA Timescompiled a list of fundraisers to help victims of the Monterey Park shooting andmorrer San Jose Mercury Newsalso compiled a list to help victims of the Half Moon Bay shooting.

In addition to victim-focused help, experts and organizers are also pushing for stricter gun laws, more resources for the mental health of the elderly, and a closer scrutiny of domestic violence in the Asian-American community. In both cases, the shooters were elderly Asian Americans, and in the case of the Half Moon Bay attack, the shooter had already received a restraining order for violence against a roommate.

The similar age profiles of both Sagittarians have led to calls for more investment in mental health and economic resources for Asian-American seniors, a group that pops up so frequently.faces gaps in such servicesdue to stigma, lack of cultural competence among clinicians, and language barriers.

"I think the general consensus is that many Asian Americans, especially older Asian Americans, don't have the language or the tools to deal with mental health issues," says Zarsadiaz.

Advocates and lawmakers also increased pressure for stricter gun control measures after the two shootings, including support for a federal assault-weapons ban that stalled in Congress. Historically, Asian Americans have been strong supporters of robust gun control measures - 77 percent support themin a 2022 AAPI data survey– advocacy that is ready to continue after these tragedies.

"This is a big gun violence problem," says Zhou. "And violence is not just specific to a particular group, so it needs to be addressed across sectors."

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For Asian Americans, California shootings are 'a series of storms' (1)

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