On Sunday, January 22, millions of families across the country prepared to celebrate Lunar New Year together but instead awoke to the tragic news of yet another mass shooting in a majority Asian and Latino community in Monterey Park.
Our hearts and prayers are with the 10 families who lost loved ones as well as those who were injured in this senseless attack. Yet, we are once again faced with the gut-wrenching reality that our thoughts and prayers are not enough to change the trajectory of the deadly wave of gun violence plaguing our nation.
The news of this tragedy did not land lightly for the Asian and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community who are already on heightened alert from nearly three years of intense targeted racism, hatred, and violence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unjust association of the virus with an entire race of people. It was met with fear, reinvigorated trauma, and sadness. As Philadelphians, we grieve with those impacted directly by the mass shooting, and also those who have been vicariously traumatized by it.
This incident highlights growing concern over the intersection of our mental health crises and ever-increasing access to guns. It also points to a broader inability of people to resolve conflict without resorting to violence. No matter where we live, or who we are, we deserve to live in safety, and free from violence in all of its forms. While there still remains a great deal of information to uncover about the shooter and the particular circumstances surrounding the incident, we know that there is still so much work to be done to rid our communities of the plague of gun violence, whether in our neighborhoods in Philadelphia or in cities and towns across the country.
The Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, in partnership with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR), has worked diligently throughout the past several years to ensure that our residents are equipped with the tools they need to better engage with each other and turn away from violence as a solution. We are also working to address the systemic ways that our vulnerable and marginalized communities have been left behind and with few resources. PCHR offers mediation, conciliation, and referral services for individuals and households in conflict. Anyone living or working in the City of Philadelphia can request these services at no charge. For more information visit www.phila.gov/pchr.
On this Lunar New Year, the City of Philadelphia wishes peace, prosperity, and harmony for our residents. The Year of the Rabbit and Cat is said to usher in a gentler spirit. While we work together to make systemic changes, may we be encouraged to extend compassion to our neighbors, stand in solidarity, and uplift all marginalized communities.