Story and photos by Nick Eismann
On Friday, March 19 District 6 councilmember Suely Saro held a vigil at MacArthur Park where local leaders and members spread a message of solidarity with Asian community members in the wake of the mass shooting in Atlanta, GA where eight people, including six of Asian descent were killed by a white terrorist.
During the vigil, Saro made it known that Asian Pacific Islanders are seen in the community.
“While there haven’t been reports made here about hate and violence, I want to make sure that Asian Pacific Islander Americans in Long Beach are seen, and to encourage people to not stay silent,” Saro said.
A few days prior at the Long Beach City Council meeting, all councilmembers unanimously voted to condemn the hate crimes and harassment that the Asian and Asian Pacific Islander community has faced, just hours after the mass shooting occurred.
“Long Beach has approximately 60,000 Asian Pacific Islanders, and the hate has increased and escalated where many are living in fear,” Saro said. “Asian Pacific Islander Americans have been sacrificing their lives to make our country safe and serving on the frontlines of this pandemic.”
Dawn Loh came out to show her support for the Asian community in Long Beach. She said that a lot of Asian activists and people within the community have seen this coming.
“People believe this model minority lie that we won’t fight back and that we’re all living comfortable lives… that’s not the case,” Loh said. “Anti Asian violence has been going on forever. It’s been going on ever since we’ve been here, even in our own countries, and we have a history of fighting back…[in] the Philippines, in Vietnam, in China, the Vietnamese even fought the KKK in Texas.”
Charles Song, co-chair of Equity for Cambodians, expressed his anger at the rise in hate towards Asian Pacific Islanders.
“We escaped the killing fields to come to a country with the promise that we can exist like all of you,” Song said.
Song reminded those in attendance that this hate that Asian Americans are now experiencing is nothing new, people of color have been discriminated against for hundreds of years.
“The message is clear that we can no longer allow this to be silent,” Song said.
“And I urge my fellow brothers and sisters, choose the right path, do the right thing, and that is to stand up against this hate.”