AAPI community in St. Louis respond to Monterey Park mass shooting

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 5:20 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - High emotions are bubbling to the surface, as members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community here in St. Louis react to the weekend mass shooting in Monterey Park, California.

“My initial reaction was shock but it was mostly kind of just sadness...and another kind of [like] ‘here we go again’,” said

Anna Karpinski, President of AIGA St. Louis. “Part of me was not entirely surprised honestly that it happened, and [that] the timing of it was on the beginning of the Lunar New Year.”

“It’s just really traumatizing and shattering,” said Thu Nguyen.

Nguyen is the Executive Director of OCA Asian pacific American Advocates, which has a chapter based in St. Louis.

While authorities in California continue to work on answering questions about the mass shooting, including whether it was racially motivated, Nguyen says it’s a tragedy that no community should ever have to experience.

“Gun violence is extremely scary to the Asian American community as well, and so for us, we just want to be cautious of all the mis and disinformation about gun ownership, gun violence and really call to action for more gun safety,” she said.

Nguyen says throughout the pandemic, anti-Asian hate incidents increased by more than 300 percent, which is why something like this tragedy may be triggering to the community.

“I think learning that it potentially was an Asian man who was the shooter, I think that’s something that makes you stop [and think]. I don’t think it excludes the possibility of being a hate, but I do think it makes you wonder what the motivations are and why someone would turn against their community like that,” said Karpinski.

As the AAPI community continues to heal from this tragedy, OCA leaders stresses the importance of safety, especially as lunar new year celebrations continue here and in other parts of the country.

“May just reinvigorate another wave of anti-Asian hate just because we’re on media, we have media attention again,” said Nguyen

“We encourage folks to be vigilant amongst the crowded areas, be aware of your surroundings,” said Thong Tarm, OCA St. Louis board President. “Obviously, it’s going to be a little difficult with lunar new year but try to discourage the use of fireworks, it can be retraumatizing for those experiencing gun violence or the effects to them.”