SLCC Students Hold Vigil For Victims Of Atlanta Shootings
Mar 20, 2021, 10:36 AM | Updated: 10:42 am
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A large group gathered on the steps outside of Salt Lake Community College to remember the eight victims who were shot and killed in the Atlanta area.
Students and allies held a large banner that said “Love and Solidarity.”
“A lot of times, people feel like they are living in a community where they don’t belong — because of how people treat them,” said Nadia Yahyapour, Asian American student representative at SLCC. “It’s important we treat people how we want to be treated. We should treat them like they belong and not like an outsider. Remember viewing race is not and should not be just from your point of view.”
Yahyapour and other students spoke to the crowd about the rising attacks against Asian Americans.
According to data compiled by California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, 16 of the country’s most populous cities saw an increase of almost 150% in hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2020.
Police continue to investigate the Atlanta shootings. Six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent.
Victims included a new mother taking a rare break from caring for her baby girl. Another was a single mother who worked to support her two sons. Another was a United States Army veteran who installed security systems in the Atlanta area.
“My reaction was, ‘Here we go again — it’s happening again,’ because this has happened so many times before,” Yahyapour said. “We have a problem. We love to Americanize culture here in the states, tweak it, and then we love it — why can’t we love culture the way it is?”
Young mother Clarysa Park attended Friday’s vigil. She held a sign listing the names of the Atlanta shooting victims.
“It’s threatening, it’s scary — it’s isolating,” Park said. “President Trump started calling this the ‘Kung Flu’ and ‘China Virus.’ Right then I was like he is putting a target on our backs. And many are fearful.”
One woman took the microphone, citing she is high risk and therefore hasn’t left her home very often over the past year.
“But I came out today. When I heard my colleagues and my friends were hurting. It was a perfect time to come — to join in solidarity.”
The advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate said it’s received more than 3,100 reported incidents of aggression targeting Asian Americans between March and December 2020. The elderly and women were disproportionately attacked.
“In our culture, our elders are valued and mean a tremendous amount to us,” said Sepa Faupula, president of the Asian Student Association at SLCC. “That’s where these hate attacks started. They were committed against our elders.”
Those in attendance urged others to listen to understand.
“It means so much to us to be heard. Because often in America, Asian issues are overlooked and swept under the rug,” Faupula said. “We all have a right to life, to happiness and freedom. Empathy will heal.”