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Vice President Harris travels to Monterey Park to honor mass shooting victims

Kamala Harris spoke briefly, visited with victims' families, and laid a wreath at the Star Ballroom memorial.
VP Harris memorializes Monterey Park shooting victims
Posted at 10:59 PM, Jan 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-26 17:15:43-05

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KERO) — The community of Monterey Park gathered in grief but also in support of one another following a mass shooting on Saturday night that killed 11 people during what was supposed to be a time of celebration.

“Your heart goes out to folks like this, who are just having a good time,” said Monterey Park resident Jesus Jimenez. “it was their [Lunar] New Year”.

Vice President Kamala Harris stopped by a memorial outside the star dance studio honoring the 11 victims and telling reporters when it comes to gun violence “Congress needs to act. Can they do something? Yes. Should they do something? Yes. Will they do something? That is where we all must speak up and speak to our elected representatives.”

But Harris’s message Wednesday fell short for some residents who told 23ABC they’re fed up with gun violence.

“Until they get their job done and get this thing rectified, they shouldn't get paid,” said Jimenez. “We send them to Congress. We send them to be vice presidents. We send them out there to do a job and they're not doing the job.”

This past weekend’s tragedy is one of five mass shootings in California this year. Nationwide, The Gun Violence Archive reports there have been 40 mass shootings so far.

Others at the community vigil voiced the need for more ways to help Asian Americans deal with not only the Monterey Park shooting, but the hateful rhetoric and actions against older Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders over the past few years.

Millie Liao showed up in solidarity with her community, holding a sign that read, “Protect Our Elders.”

“Mine [her sign] is reminiscent of the ‘Stop AAPI Hate’ movement, which we have yet to forget,” she explained. “This stems not just from gun violence, but also from a disproportionate lack of mental health resources for Asian American individuals. And, you know, that extends specifically to Asian American elders. As we know, this was an attack specifically upon them.”

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 340% from 2020 to 2021.

Liao’s friend, Alina Wong, carried another sign that read “we wore red for luck. We bled red from guns.”

Wong issued another call to action: to keep fighting for the changes they want to see.

“It's just more of a sign that we should use like words and love to fight instead of the bullets and fists that we have been seeing and counteracting something so heinous with something even more powerful – with unity.”

The Monterey Park community gathered in that spirit of unity Wednesday night to set an example for the next generation of Americans

“I’m out here to show the kids that this is what you do in adversity and troubled times. That you support and help each other, and the community comes together,” said Jason Gol, who attended the vigil with his children, one of whom was drawing hearts with chalk in the parking lot where the mass shooting occurred. “The best thing is that people really show the love and show [that] you help each other.”

One of the 11 shooting victims, Diana Tom, was a former longtime resident of Bakersfield. To read more about her life and memories from those who knew her, click here.