March 18, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Two Council District 26 candidates are holding a vigil Thursday in remembrance of Asian Americans killed in bias attacks over the past year — including the victims of the Atlanta area shooting Tuesday night.
Julie Won and Steven Raga, two Asian American candidates, are hosting the vigil at Bliss Plaza, located at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Six of the eight victims killed at three Atlanta-area spas Tuesday were Asian American women. Police have released the identities of just four of the victims thus far — Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44.
The vigil is in honor of those victims as well as other Asian Americans recently killed, including Christian Hall who was killed by police in Pennsylvania in December, Tommy Lee who was killed by a police officer in Seattle in 2017, Angelo Quinto who was killed by California police in December and Ee Lee, who was raped and killed by teenagers in Milwaukee park in September.
The suspect in Tuesday’s shooting, a 21-year-old white man, has been charged with eight counts of murder, but the police in Atlanta have yet to classify the mass shooting as a hate crime against Asian Americans.
Won and Raga said the shooting was clearly a hate crime against the Asian community and must be recognized as such.
Raga says “Racism impacts all our marginalized communities and the rise in violence against Asian Americans shows that hate is prevailing during this difficult time for our city and country.”
“This violent act towards Asian women needs to be fully recognized as a hate crime and cannot be reduced to a single, isolated incident,” Raga said. “Asian Americans deserve to be safe in their communities, they deserve to be safe on public transit, and they deserve to be safe at work – no matter their industry. We deserve to not live in fear.”
The murders come after a year of increased attacks against the Asian community in the U.S. — triggered by misinformation and stigma surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you are questioning whether these attacks were hate crimes, you are abetting white supremacy,” she said. “If you are questioning these women’s professions, you are abetting white supremacy. If you are arguing that more cops and more incarceration will keep us safe, you are abetting white supremacy.”
“And as long as white supremacy rears its ugly head, we will have no home here…” Won added.
“Each and every one of us deserves to call this country our home.”
She said she will continue to speak out in the names of the shooting victims.
“Amidst the grief and the anger, it is hard to find words fit to address an unspeakable tragedy,” Won said. “But in the names of Xiaojie, Ashley, Daoyou, and so many more: we speak up and we fight on.”
A Council District 25 candidate, Shekar Krishnan, hosted a candlelit vigil for the victims last night as well.