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Sunnyside Community Holds Vigil To Mourn Victims of Asian Hate

Residents gather in Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside Thursday to condemn bias attacks against Asian Americans (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

March 19, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

More than 150 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in Sunnyside Thursday to mourn the Asian Americans killed in bias attacks over the past year — including the victims of the Atlanta-area shooting Tuesday night.

The event took place at Bliss Plaza, located at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, and was hosted by Steven Raga and Julie Won, two Asian American council candidates who are running to represent the 26th District. The pair were joined by at least three other candidates who are vying for the seat.

Raga and Won called on the community to denounce the recent spike in hate crimes. They said that the bigotry had to stop.

“This is an epidemic, a societal disease of hate…against the Asian American community,” Raga, a Filipino-American, said. “We are not the virus.”

The vigil began at around 6:45 p.m. and lasted around 80 minutes.

Six large candles– representing the Asian Americans who were gunned down Tuesday–were placed on the ground in front of a makeshift speaking area along with three bouquets of flowers.

Many people carried their own candles to remember the lives of the slain victims, while families – accompanied by young children – also turned out to show a united front against racism.

One young child could be seen holding a sign that read #StopAsianHate while another woman carried a sign with the words “Tama Na,” which means “enough is enough.”

Won, a Korean-American, began the event by reading out the names of the victims in Tuesday’s horrific shooting.

“The lives of our Asian brothers and sisters have value,” she said.

She said that Asian American women are being objectified through hyper-sexualization which can lead to violence and death. The victims in Tuesday’s shootings had worked in a massage parlor and the suspect told the police that he carried out the killings to quell his sexual addiction.

Raga emphasized the fact that there have been nearly 3,800 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders over the past year, citing research from Stop AAPI Hate. He said that many more go unreported.

Other speakers at the event included Donal Gogdel, a youth director at Hope Justice Astoria as well as District Council 26 candidates Brent O’Leary, Badrun Khan and Heajin Hailie Kim.

Audrey Lee, a local singer and musician, sang a song in honor of the victims, as did Jay Miners.

Steven Raga (L) and Julie Won (R) hosted the vigil in Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside Thursday (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

A woman holds a candle in the air during the vigil at Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside Thursday (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Audrey Lee, a local singer and musician, sings a song in honor of the victims at the vigil at Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside Thursday (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Two people light a candle at the vigil at Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside Thursday (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

A young child and a woman hold their signs at the vigil at Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside Thursday (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

A man places a candle at the vigil at Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside Thursday (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

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39 Comments

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Makes sense

I get what they’re going for with the rally, but it’d be nice if they’d mentioned the names of all the victims, not just the Asian ones. If you were the mother of the other victims how would you like to see your children erased? Eight people died.

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you be you

The organizers mentioned all of the names that were known and reported at the time of the vigil

but you be you

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instant humanitarians

Important to have area residents stand together in solidarity in hard times. Does not matter if massacre was anti-asian or not. We have not noticed Stephen raga and julie won holding rallies for asians or anyone else before they were running for office. campaign op?

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Why does the Radical Right want everything to be PC?

Could they have this vigil for murder victims in a way that didn’t offend you?

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Jill

Nothing is going to change until we begin punishing Trump and his base to the fullest extent of the law for their hate crimes.

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Aki

Last year, there were 22 anti Asian hate crimes in NY, doubling from the year before, out of MILLIONs of Asians. Hate crimes are also extremely subjective, so with numbers this low, it’s easy for the news to exaggerate it by only stating % rates. This is just the media trying to generate a headline.

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Joy

Many of these assaults’ are being committed by mentally ill people. But it makes for a better story when racism is the main focus.

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The Instigator

Really feeling terrible for the Asian community. Aside from the racism and violence they have experienced as a result of coronavirus, the Asian community had been demonized and discriminated against by the federal government and by state governments through affirmative action and the call to eliminate exams for competitive high schools in NY and VA to give a few examples (Virginia has already eliminated the exam to get into the top high school in the country, which will undoubtedly adversely impact Asian Americans). These kinds of policies that let people “cut the line” solely based on your race only encourage racism and promote stereotypes. Suddenly the same politicians that support these racist policies are now standing up in support of the Asian community. Pretty much summarized the sad state of politics these days.

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Lee

This is why i love Sunnyside so much. Brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart with hope for a kinder and all inclusive future. We will not tolerate hate. Julie Won has my vote.

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Reason

Even the shooter said it had nothing to do with race… But everyone’s rushing to conclusions about it. Let’s honor the dead which included white people as well. Enough with the race it takes away from ALL the lives lost.

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Even the shooter said it had nothing to do with race…

Suddenly a mass shooter’s word is credible
Oh forgot, white shooter gotcha

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Mac

“Even the shooter said”? You may want to site a more reliable source and maybe one with more integrity than a mass murdering coward..

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Anonymous

What’s interesting about the tactic is how it’s used selectively. Whether it was truly racially motivated doesn’t matter as long as you push your narrative. If your proven to be incorrect at a later time your agenda has already been pushed and you can move on to your next soap box. Yet if someone else tries the same approach you punch holes in the message so it doesn’t gain momentum. Case in point the young women who was killed in moringside heights a while back, by these standards solidarity protests should have been held and politicians should have called for press conference. But nothing happened. It’s all about narrative and emotion with facts being cherry picked and used selectively. This is the problem and while it works shame on anyone that employs them as the short term gains come at long term heavy costs. How long can we allow dishonesty and manipulation to run unchecked.

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Please fact check yourself

Anonymous- There were multiple vigils and “ solidarity protests” regarding that murder up in Morningside Heights. Just google it.

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Guest

You imply that “everyone’s rushing to conclusions,” but seem to support the shooter’s claim that “it had nothing to do with race”.

So why don’t you sit back and wait for the definitive account on the massacre, if it ever comes out?

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Joe

All hate and bigotry is bad. Let’s see Grace Meng and her followers and wannabe politicians like Won and Raga come out for all forms of bigotry not just Asian.

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Response to divisive Joe

Joe – Nobody, absolutely nobody, not Meng, not Won and not Raga, has denied all hate and bigotry is bad. Your statement is absurd. You appear to be reducing these incidents of brutal assaults and murder to something less with your ridiculous comment.

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Actually...

His comment isn’t ridiculous, what they’re doing is playing politics and advancing agendas at the expense of others. Their words, and lack of words speaks volumes and plays to a more subtle bigotry that’s heard loud and clear amongst their supporters. A dog whistle you could say. For if they were true in their means they would call out the obvious which no one dares say. But they don’t because they aren’t. Instead they have children hold sign that contain false narratives, they repeat political talking points, and regurgitate misinformation.

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Mr. Sunshine

Progressives love to have their “moment”. What happened definitely sucks and was awful but not EVERYTHING is a hate crime! For some reason when white people get attacked by blacks, which the media refuses to report by the way, it’s never considered a hate crime. Go figure!

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"blacks?!" 😬

You say “white people” but black people are just “blacks?” Yikes, talk about tone deaf. Do you say “orientals” as well? Why do they say Trumpers are out-of-touch boomers?

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Look up bipolar “flight of ideas”

Yes politics, when a former president who used xenophobia to take the heat off of himself , trying to shield his incompetence in managing a pandemic, it was political now its way beyond political, its deadly.

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What’s up

Reposting my comment from another post to debunk you again. I’m waiting for another Fox News diatribe.

Blaming ol’ Trump for his inflammatory rhetoric is not entirely correct. If you blame him whole heartedly, you assume the people who act out and hurt Asians are of sub level intelligence and cannot think for themselves. Why? Trump has been vilified as the most evil person in the world by the liberal media. For anyone to believe what he says and especially act out on his rhetoric, they are either crazy (which is a good scapegoat for criminals), OR they have had underlying prejudices against Asians. But the kicker here is most of the criminal acts are committed by blacks. Liberals won’t admit this fact. Why? Because it flaws their support of BLM and their mantra of equality and equity which would entail debunking their progressive agenda. They use Trump as a scapegoat for the blacks’ underlying prejudice against Asians. The worst part of this farce is some Asians want to play good minority and support BLM, like Grace, Liu, Won, and fake New Yorker Andy Yang. Little do they know they are being played by both sides. Anti Asian attacks will continue by POCs because they have a scapegoat and the same politicians have roped Asians as constituents with the same people that attack them.

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Terry O’C

To quote above : “Blaming ol’ Trump for his inflammatory rhetoric is not entirely correct.” Even if Trumps rhetoric is partially responsible as your statement suggests then he still has blood on his hands.

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Another captain obvious award

So does Grace Meng and the others for enabling.

But that is my point. You just can’t blame Trump. The left has part of the blame for the increase in hate crimes but in crimes overall.

Trump exploits anankastic people

Excerpts from your “flight of ideas” aka a comment. “Trump as a scapegoat for the blacks’ underlying prejudice against Asians.” The shooter pertaining to this article and shooting was a white man. Second excerpt, “ If you blame him whole heartedly, you assume the people who act out and hurt Asians are of sub level intelligence and cannot think for themselves.” Trumps lawyer publicly stated in court documents to a sitting judge that Trumps supporters were not not reasonable people. https://www.google.com/amp/s/news.yahoo.com/amphtml/pro-trump-lawyer-sidney-powell-222126053.html

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This comment got way better the second time

Take a deep breath Pat. You don’t HAVE to be offended by a community vigil.

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Pat

Anyone who expresses an opinion different from yours is over emotional. Why don’t you go and live in a little liberal progressive commune where everyone has your liberal progressive view and no other opinion is tolerated!

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How could this possible hurt your feelings so much?

A vigil for murder victims, and it’s not PC enough for Trump lovers. Sad!

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Pat

Enough already. Stop the hate demonstrations already. Every time an Asian is killed doesn’t mean it was a hate crime.

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E Pluribus Victim

That’s what they do to divide people. Separate them into different victim groups, nurture their grievances, fan the flames then divide and conquer. The ruling classes have always feared a united people.

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Joe

These demonstrations do nothing to stop hatred. Grace Meng and Julie Won are just doing it for political reasons to make names for themselves. Strengthen hate crime laws and severely punish people who commit crimes based on ethnic or religious hatred and acknowledge the fact that hate crimes are not only committed by white people.

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