Robert Peterson remembers his mother, who died in an infamous attack last year on Atlanta-area spas, as a hardworking person taken from her family “when we needed her most.”
A year ago this week, on March 16, 2021, eight people were killed – including six of Asian origin – in the attacks. Four of the victims were Korean.
“My mother was more than her ethnicity, she was more than her job, and she was more than the way she was killed,” Peterson said of her mother, Yong Yue. “Someone said this pain would go away. But to be honest, it doesn’t.”
Peterson spoke at a memorial event Saturday hosted by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and Asian American Advocacy Fund. The event highlighted the rise of Asian hate crimes over the past year and commemorated the lives lost in the Atlanta spa shooting.
Those killed included Paul Michels, 54; Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44 years old; and Delaina Yaun, 33. As well as Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.
ONE YEAR AFTER FILMING THE ATLANTA SPA:‘Prevention is key’ to tackling anti-Asian hate crimes
“HORRIFIC” STAB:Woman stabbed to death is latest in series of violent attacks on Asian Americans
The crowd, many of whom wore ‘anti-Asian hate’ masks and beanies emblazoned with ‘Asian AF’, wept and cheered as community leaders called for unity among minority groups and a halt violence.
The event took place near the Young Girls Peace Monument in Brookhaven, Georgia, which honors “the more than 200,000 girls and women, known as ‘comfort women,’ who have been sexually enslaved throughout the world. Asia in World War II,” according to board member John Park. One by one, the attendees placed a single flower next to the statue, recited a prayer, and bowed in respect.
“Holding an event commemorating the deaths of Asian Americans near a statue that also means a lot was beyond emotional,” Jamie Chou told USA TODAY. “People bowed down, they cried and they hoped for a better year.”
Soyoung Yun, a Korean-American mental health specialist, recalled that before the shooting, she had become accustomed to ignoring or dismissing microaggressions and “lived in a state of denial”. She never imagined it would lead to such violence until the night of March 16.
Yun said she thinks the world remains a scary place for Asian Americans and their mental health has taken a toll.
“The violence afflicted is not new but the frequency is alarming and it affects our well-being,” Yun said.
Anti-Asian hate crimes rose 339% last year from the previous year, according to data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
Erick Allen, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, called the rise in anti-Asian hatred an “epidemic” and vowed to continue to raise awareness.
“Sometimes people don’t feel things until they happen to them and they’ve happened to us, to the Black, Latina and Asian communities. So that forces us to be an ally and to continue to raise awareness,” Allen told USA TODAY.
In the year since the shooting, Atlanta has become the epicenter of “Asian American grief, healing and resistance,” South Asian American lawyer and writer Deepa Iyer said during the interview. ‘event. The statement was made evident when participants shared stories of their own encounters with racism and violence.
Sherry Li told a colleague in the crowd about a man she said pushed her to the ground while she was on a train in Atlanta.
“He pushed me and said thank you for the coronavirus and sat down. Like nothing happened,” Li told USA TODAY. “I am here at this event because anti-Asian hatred is real and dangerous and we will not forget what happened.”
After many tragedies, Americans say “I share your pain”, but Phi Nguyen, executive director of AAAJ, said she preferred a Vietnamese expression. The phrase, roughly translated, means “to divide sadness”.
“I prefer that phrase because I like the idea of not sharing but breaking the pain into smaller pieces so that we each have a smaller load,” Nguyen said. “That’s the purpose of this event, to come together to share our pain but also our healing as a community.”
ATTACKS ON ASIAN WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES:Asian women continue to face “terrifying” attacks in the United States. What the defenders say.
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda