by Emily Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief
photo by Emily Schwartz

At dusk on Jan. 28, over 150 people gathered in front of the Lion Gateway in Boston’s Chinatown to remember the victims of the shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, which had taken place several days prior. Attendees leaned in to listen to the hour of speeches and then to raise their phone flashlights in a moment of silence for victims. 

At 1 p.m. the next day, another crowd filled Chinatown’s streets, covered in red confetti, lucky orange peels and used firecrackers. Lasting for five hours, the parade took place on the second weekend of Lunar New Year.  

Lion dances blessed each business storefront, vendors sold toys on street corners and a crowd of cameras huddled around a martial arts demonstration and dragon dance. The loud noise as the celebratory firecrackers exploded meant to scare away bad spirits shook my insides, too, echoing the gunfire heard just a week earlier in the Monterey Park ballroom. 

The Jan. 21 shooting interrupted the first day of Lunar New Year celebrations in a popular ballroom frequented by the majority-Asian community of the L.A. suburb. 

After killing 11 people at the first venue, the suspect was tackled by the owner of a second ballroom to finally end the shooting spree. A chill ran through Asian communities and Lunar New Year celebrations nationwide. 

At the Boston vigil, District Attorneys (DAs), elected representatives, mayors and community organizers expressed outrage, consolation and conviction at the tragedy.

Massachusetts has among the most restrictive gun laws, the politicians said, and the DAs referenced their renewed focus to prosecute hate crimes. It seemed there was not much more our government could do — our country’s obsession with guns and epidemic of hate are things not easily fixed.

What are we to do, then, other than jump the gunman and take a bullet for a stranger, like the first ballroom owner did, and the second risked?

It falls on our individual acts of humanity to protect each other. We must confront hate, check on each other and work to advance gun control outside of Massachusetts. 

Before all else, we have to remember. Don’t think the brave, joyous and resilient Lunar New Year celebration granted permission to move on. Don’t let your heart callous and succumb to the next news cycle. In order to “fight,” rather than “run” or “hide,” like the active shooter drills taught us in school, we begin by remembering.