Then, Saturday night, as thousands of Asian Americans nationwide gathered with loved ones, that promise was once again broken.
Instead of the sound of firecrackers set to scare away evil spirits, families celebrating in Monterey Park, California, heard gun shots. Ten families are grieving a loss of their loved ones; another 10 hope for the recovery of their family members. And a whole community, anticipating joyous celebration, is now plunged back into fear.
Motive of gunman not known
On Sunday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the gunman as Huu Can Tran, 72. Tran’s white van was spotted in Torrance, about 22 miles from the mass shooting.
“Our sheriff’s SWAT team approached and cleared the van and determined the suspect sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene,” Luna said.
Trauma and grief: Lunar New Year mass shooting traumatizes Asian Americans already on edge
We don’t know the motives of the gunman. What we do know is that this act of violence took place in a Chinese-owned business, in a predominantly Asian American city, while the community celebrated Lunar New Year, one of the most important holidays of the year.
For our community experiencing isolation, grief and anxiety, this shooting hits home. In a city like Monterey Park, where 65% of residents are Asian Americans, where elected officials are trusted members of our community, this violence is simultaneously shocking and has become all too common.
From March 2020 to the end of 2021, Stop AAPI Hate recorded more than 10,900 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
Worried of being attacked because our race or ethnicity
This violence has changed our way of life: 1 in 5 Asian Americans say they worry daily or almost daily that they could be threatened or attacked because of their race or ethnicity, according to the Pew Research Center. Our community continues to be on edge, and the Monterey Park tragedy adds to the tension.
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Despite these trends, many in our country have failed to pay attention. More than a third of Americans are unaware that attacks against Asian Americans are increasing, according to the STAATUS Index, a study on American perceptions of Asian Americans.
Regardless of what we continue to learn about this weekend’s attack, we know one thing for certain: The violence must end.
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We cannot fight this violence alone. I call on the news media to report on this incident with integrity, empathy and accuracy. This story must not fade from the headlines.
We also call upon government officials and the broader public to continue to prioritize addressing violence in all of our communities.
Finally, we thank our allies who have answered the call to support our community. An attack on one community is an attack on all communities.
Norman Chen is the chief executive officer of The Asian American Foundation. Before his appointment at TAAF, Chen co-founded the nonprofit Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH) and helped to create a landmark study, the STAATUS Index, of American attitudes toward Asian Americans.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Monterey Park, California mass shooting shatters Lunar New Year hope