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At Hartford gathering, a show of solidarity with AAPI community after Monterey Park shooting

AAPI CA Mass Shooting Vigil
Tony Spinelli
Connecticut Public
Right to left, front row, Jenny Heikkila Diaz of the APAC, Quan Tran and Khadijah Sheikh, along with AAPI community leaders and supporters look out at the crowd that gathered at a vigil in Hartford on January 24 , 2023 for victims of a deadly mass shooting that happened at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, CA.

People gathered at the state Capitol in Hartford Tuesday night to remember the victims of a mass shooting in southern California – and to show solidarity with the Asian American community.

A gunman killed 11 people late Saturday at a ballroom dance club in the predominantly Asian American community of Monterey Park, near Los Angeles. The shooting shattered what should be a “time of joy” during Lunar New Year celebrations, Connecticut organizers said.

About 100 people, including elected officials and AAPI community leaders, attended the Hartford gathering. The Lunar New Year should be about celebrating a new beginning, attendees said. Now they plan to focus the conversation on mental health and gun violence.

“The underlying cracking point which caused all of this was mental health,” state Sen. Tony Hwang said. “I think it’s important for us, as we renew and unite, to support each other and to find solutions.”

Misha Shahid said these are challenging times for the Asian American community, and she’s worried.

“I was just talking to one of my best friends, who’s Japanese American, and she spoke up about how when she goes to our local Asian supermarket … she fears that if she goes, her sister goes, her father goes, her safety will be at risk,” Shahid said.

Meanwhile, in New Haven, plans continue for Saturday’s Yale-China Lunarfest celebration, which bills itself as the largest Lunar New Year festival in Connecticut and will be held fully in person for the first time since 2020. New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said that there will be increased police patrols at the celebration and that the city is in contact with the FBI to keep an eye out for potential threats.

“We want to make absolutely sure that the Yale-China Lunarfest will be conducted safely and that it’s welcoming and open to everyone,” Elicker said.

Connecticut Public’s Frankie Graziano and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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