Vigil held in the Central Valley for victims of Atlanta spa shootings

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — The Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries and Hmong Innovating Politics Organization organized a community vigil on Saturday, March 20, to honor the eight people who were killed in the Atlanta spa shootings.

“I imagine the fear and the terror in those women when they were shot down. It is unthinkable and unacceptable,” said one community member.

The names of the eight victims, six of whom were Asian women, were taped on the wall behind the speakers; who shared words of grief, frustration and calls to action.

“Teach your friends to have a heart without race inside, so that we all can thrive,” said one speaker.

An analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino revealed hate crimes against Asian people in 16 of America’s largest cities rose by nearly 150 percent in 2020.

Gaonoucci Belle Vang, an organizer of the vigil, says she and other Asian-Americans fear the possibility of facing hate crimes when they’re in public, and urge the community to stick by them.

“I would like for community members to understand that allyship is incredibly important. Allyship is not based on color, it’s based on your morals and beliefs as a community. It’s crucial for community members to stand amongst one another, despite your color,” she said.

Vang said she and other community organizers are working on future events and building coalitions within the Central Valley community.

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