OAKLAND, Calif. – In Oakland’s Madison Park on Tuesday evening, crowds gathered for a vigil to mark one week since the shooting deaths of eight people in Atlanta, six of them women of Asian descent.
The women who were murdered in Atlanta were of Korean and Chinese descent, so Oakland Rising and other social justice groups honored them in practices routed in those cultural traditions.
“Over the last week, I’ve experienced a range of emotions, both in sequence and simultaneously, from heartbreak to rage, to grief, to numbness, to fear,” Elizabeth Suk, the interim executive director of Oakland Rising said to a crowd of masked Bay Area residents, showing up to support the Asian American community.
“It’s a huge community of love, and it’s very present here today,” Angela Karamain, an Oakland resident in attendance, said.
Korean folk drums beat while the crowd clapped their hands to the rhythm, candles glowed, and handwritten prayers and bouquets of flowers were placed on a makeshift altar.
The gathering, meant for collective healing, also served to ponder the questions, what can be done to better serve the Asian community? And how do we resolve the pervasive fear Asian-Americans feel when going about their day?
“In this moment, when we are all grieving, isolated, and uncertain of what our future looks like here, in this country and in the world, simple acts of kindness and compassion go a long way,” Michelle Mush Lee, cultural affairs commissioner of the city of Oakland said.
Mush Lee said this event was not a call to action, but simply a moment to stand by one’s neighbor.
Mary Abbati showed up in support, after having recently moved to Alameda to be closer to family.
“I just hope this never happens again,” Abbati said.