On Saturday, January 21, as Lunar New Year celebrations were winding down for the night, a gunman entered the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, and opened fire, killing 11 people and wounding nine others.
Unimaginably, the night could have gotten even worse, if not for the heroic actions of 26-year-old Brandon Tsay. The gunman left Star Ballroom drove to the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio with the intent to cause even more violence there. Instead, he was confronted and disarmed by Tsay, who was working in the lobby office.
Note: About an hour after this mass shooting, a gunman opened fire in a Louisiana nightclub, wounding a dozen people and bringing the harsh, heartbreaking reality of consistent and persistent gun violence in America into even sharper focus.
Not only was this the 33rd mass shooting in the U.S. in the just first 23 days of the year (not a typo), it’s impacting a community which has been victim to an ever-increasing rise in violence, hate, harassment, and attacks in the last few years.
Between March 2020 and March 2022, there were nearly 11,500 anti-Asian hate incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate’s reporting center. Two in three (67%) of the incidents involved harassment, such as verbal or written hate speech or inappropriate gestures.
Asian Americans make up more than 65% of Monterey Park’s population, and the city is a remarkable, thriving place of refuge for Asian immigrants in particular.
And it’s heartbreakingly now the latest to be impacted directly and devastatingly by America’s gun violence epidemic.
As you hold space for empathy in the midst of this heartbreaking news, we offer a gentle reminder: The privilege of experiencing a tragedy through the news rather than first-hand comes with the responsibility to use that privilege for good.
Here are some ways to turn your heartbreak and grief for the Monterey Park and AAPI community, as well as all those who have tragically been victims of gun violence, into action.
How to help the AAPI community and those affected by the Monterey Park shooting
Support the Monterey Park community
Donate to the Monterey Park fund
Start by doing what you can to directly support the Monterey Park community members who were most affected by this violent tragedy. GoFundMe is home to a verified donation campaign for you to contribute to and share widely.
Donate to and volunteer with Compassion in SGV
Twitter user @bingsoojung was quick to round up some extremely helpful resources for the AAPI community in the Los Angeles area, and we will be sharing a few of their recommendations here.
First is Compassion In SGV, an all-volunteer organization created to support and protect AAPI folks in San Gabriel Valley. Community members can request a chaperone or volunteer to be a chaperone to help AAPI folks stay safe. Now more than ever, community members will need support in their neighborhood.
Donate to Asian Pacific Counseling & Treatment Centers
Also shared by @bingsoojung on Twitter, the Asian Pacific Counseling & Treatment Centers (APCTC) was the very first Los Angeles mental health treatment center developed to help AAPI community members with their unique needs and access a wide range of mental health services.
The over 100 APCTC team members will undoubtedly be hard at work to support the AAPI community in the grieving and healing of this tragic event.
Donate to Chinatown Service Center
Also shared by @bingsoojung on Twitter, Chinatown Service Center is a healthcare and community center in LA’s Chinatown that provides a myriad of services and resources to its community. In the aftermath of this shooting, the center has on-call behavioral health support available.
Donations can be made financially or through a hot meal program.
Eat a meal with MAMA
Part of uplifting communities affected by violence is to continue to take part in joy, celebration, and connection. Lunar New Year is a significant cultural celebration for Chinese Americans, and it deserves to not be destroyed by an act of violence.
One way to preserve this valuable holiday is through food. MAMA is a small local business in the LA area “dedicated to preserving immigrant culture through food.” If you’re in LA, look for ways to support MAMA, including its upcoming Year of the Rabbit celebration in Downtown LA.
→ Support MAMA
Support the AAPI community in the short-term
Donate to Stop AAPI Hate
There is no doubt that this event has impacted the AAPI community in tragic, devastating ways. Stop APPI Hate is on a mission to “advance equity, justice, and power by dismantling systemic racism and building a multiracial movement to end anti-AAPI hate.
Share mental health resources for AAPI folks
The trauma that comes with a violent event like this is unfathomable, and even folks who do not live in Monterey Park will need increased support in the days and weeks to come. Crisis Text Line has resources about coping with gun violence, as well as immediate text-line support from trained crisis counselors.
To Write Love On Her Arms has compiled a list of AAPI mental health resources, as well.
Be thoughtful in supporting your friends in the AAPI community
Sometimes, we just need to be there for the people in our lives, and when we don’t share the same identities or experiences as them, it can be challenging to know how to support them.
But we also know that asking “what can I do to help?” isn’t very helpful — and, in fact, puts more emotional labor on the shoulders of our loved ones who are grieving or in crisis.
Here are a few ideas of what to say or do for your AAPI friends during this time:
- “There is space for you in my heart and in my home if you need someone to be with.”
- “I’m going to pick up [insert comfort food here]; can I get you some, too? I can just drop it off on your doorstep; no interactions necessary.”
- “I can offer some childcare or stop by to do your dishes if the world feels too overwhelming right now. I’m available any time today after work; text me any emoji and I’ll be there in a jiff!”
- “I know you must be processing a lot right now, so don’t at all feel obligated to prioritize our friendship this week. Take your time to respond to my texts, or don’t at all. I’ll be here whenever you’re feeling up for it.”
- “I know you must be processing a lot right now, and while I don’t at all expect you to prioritize our friendship, know that I am happy to be a strong and reliable support system for you as long as you need.”
- “I am holding you close today.”
Support the AAPI community in the long-term
Help end violence against AAPI communities
One great way to take action to end violence against AAPI communities is to take bystander intervention training. These trainings will help prepare you to intervene and deescalate in a moment of conflict or crisis.
We have also compiled a guide of helpful ways to support the AAPI community (during AAPI heritage month and all year long).
Fight to end gun violence
Learn, donate, and take action to end gun violence
Though we’ve made some good policy progress recently to reduce gun violence, we still have so much to do to change this heartbreaking (and uniquely American) reality.
We have compiled a guide full of ideas to stop gun violence. From getting involved in policy change, to hosting a gun buyback event, there are a variety of ways to do your part to end senseless gun violence.