Honoring the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings

Two hundred people gathered at Hing Hay Park yesterday to honor the victims of last week’s Atlanta-area attacks.

The Massage Parlor Outreach Program organized the event which offered a space for people to grieve but also show solidarity. Not just for the victims of the Atlanta shootings, but for everyone who has been a victim to the systemic forces of white supremacy.

What was apparent, despite the collective sense of grief, was an overwhelming sense of community. Volunteers handed out donated food to feed attendees, a tent with chairs was set up off to the side for elders and the disabled, and a memorial adorned with an array of flowers and candles flanked the stage where people spoke. 

There were kids, teens, high school students, parents, grandparents, everyone was there. Everyone was feeling the same feelings: grief, sadness, anger, heartbreak, fear, and hope that things can be different in the future.

Here are some quotes from people I spoke with:

“We are here because we know the violence, we know the oppression, we know the objectification of our peoples.” — Ixtlixochitl Salinas-White Hawk, part of Unkitawa 

“[I’m] here just feeling the weight of not just U.S. imperialism but gender-based violence. I think for a lot of young Asian American folk we can feel so many pieces of that along with our own heritage and our own families and a lot of that is from our mothers as well.” — Jess Hartman, member of Anakbayan Seattle

“I see how explicitly clear it is that the murders of Asian women here in the United States is the direct impact of U.S. imperialism abroad. All the Asian and Pacific Island communities come here to the U.S. [only] to experience the same exact violence. We can’t stop fighting for that justice for our people. — Jordan Faralan, member of Anakbayan Seattle

“This is for the women in the Asian community. You are our mothers, our aunties, our sisters, and we apologize for not protecting you. We apologize for not valuing all that you have done for us and not defending you to this moment.” — JM Wong, part of MPOP

“The Atlanta eight was really shocking for me because six of those women were women like me, like my friend here, my sister, my mom, it just really hit close to home.” — Diana Lee, student

“I think we’ve suffered a lot as Asian Americans but we’ve been so quiet. It’s really good to see all these people here today.” — Velma Veloria

You can donate to MPOP and support local massage parlor workers through the CashApp, instructions can be found here.

Photos by Grace Madigan