By Mutian Qiao
Boston University News Service
CAMBRIDGE — Local leaders and residents stood in front of Cambridge City Hall Sunday night to commemorate the victims killed during a shooting in Atlanta last week and call for an end to anti-Asian violence.
The candlelight vigil brought hundreds of people to the city’s center. Some carried signs with the hashtag “#StopAsianHate,” calling attention to the rise in violence against people of Asian descent in the United States.
The mass shooting in Georgia, which killed six Asian women and two other victims, brought renewed attention to the surge, leading to similar demonstrations across the country. Calling attention to anti-Asian violence, the vigils also give community members a chance to mourn alongside one another, according to Tien-Tien Chan, an organizer for the Cambridge event.
“People need a place to mourn together, to not feel alone, scared or powerless,” Chan said. “I am happy that people showed up. It is important for the AAPI [Asian American Pacific Islander] group and allies to stand with each other, to be angry alongside those who lost their loved ones in the shooting.”
Local leaders, including Cambridge mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, gave speeches to the community, reading out the victims’ names while also leading a minute-long moment of silence for victims and their families. People were holding candles, praying and hugging each other to show their support.
“Although we had a silent moment for the victims, we should not be silent anymore,” Chan said. “We should stand in solidarity to make sure this kind of attack does not happen again. I am glad to see that more and more people are waking up [and] fighting racism.”
According to Stop AAPI Hate, since March 18, 2020, there have been 3,759 reported hate crimes against Asian people in the U.S. The #StopAsianHate movement has grown significantly after the Atlanta shooting and the series of attacks on the county’s elderly Asian population.
“Cambridge is a diverse community and I am here to be a supportive member of it,” Siddiqui said. “We should always stand up to hate crimes and call them out. It is very important to stand with each other.”
Although the Cambridge community is putting effort into fighting racism and hate crimes, hateful remarks still reportedly plague some Asian families there. Vigil attendee Tracy Ma, whose daughter is in high school, said that her daughter was called a “chink” last summer when going out with friends and was asked to “get back to where [she] come from.”
“It happened since she was born,” Ma said, “I think those attacks on Asians just made racists believe that it is okay to be racists in public now. They must be stopped.”