Arizona Asian community heartbroken after Lunar New Year attack in California

The Asian community in the Valley reacts to a mass shooting during a Lunar New Year festival in Monterey Park, California.
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 9:44 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Asian community members in the Valley are heartbroken that violence and hate were carried on one of the biggest holidays in Asian culture, the Lunar New Year. This tragedy occurred during the first Lunar New Year celebration, officially observed as a holiday in California.

Jennifer Chau, the Executive Director for the Arizona Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander for Equity Coalition or AZ AANHPI for Equity, said the Lunar New Year is her favorite holiday. “It brings a lot of joy and happiness just to be in that surrounding of being with family, friends and good food. That’s how I see it,” said Chau.

But on Sunday, there’s sorrow paired with the holiday after a gunman attacked an Asian community celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve Saturday evening in California, killing ten people and hurting multiple others. “In a day that we’re supposed to celebrate family and friends and getting together, it’s to me, heartbreaking,” said Chau.

Chau moved to El Monte, California, when she was four. That’s near the city where the mass shooting took place. Chau said she used to plan Asian advocacy events in Monterey Park before moving to Tempe a couple of years back. Her family and friends still live in the area. Chau said she called everyone she knew living there first thing Sunday morning. She said many of her friends go dancing at Monterey Park. “Luckily, a lot of people are safe. The people that I know. But I’m feeling really saddened and just mourning the death of those impacted,” said Chau.

Democratic State Rep. Leezah Sun feels the same pain. “It’s painful to feel all this is happening, and I think a lot of people are still adjusting from all the AAPI harm that has happened before. It’s almost like we thought we could take a breath and now this event (happened), especially in such a critical moment in our calendar,” said Rep. Sun.

Both Sun and Chau hope the Asian community stays strong in the face of violence. “I would say, let’s unite. Let’s come together. Let’s spread love and care. That’s my message,” said Chau.