San Diego County

City Heights Prayer Vigil Honors Victims of Atlanta Spa Killings

An interfaith gathering Tuesday night at a San Diego park drew hundreds of participants

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In City Heights, some 200 people of many faiths and cultures gathered for a prayer vigil to remember the victims of the murder spree at three Atlanta spas last week.

One week ago, to the day, eight people working in three Atlanta area Spas were killed, six of them of Asian descent.

The killings spread fear among many members of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities here in San Diego.

Prayer vigil organizers said the attack underscores the recent uptick in violence against Asian communities across the country.

In prayer and in solidarity, members and supporters of San Diego's Asian American, Pacific Islander community gathered in Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park in City Heights to denounce similar attacks.

"It’s a time to come together. We, as people, need to see the humanity and dignity in each other,” Korean American Danny Kim said.

Kim and his wife came to the vigil from North Park to share their feelings and help others do the same.

"My part is to stand here with my husband and my community. To offer my support and to offer just a place to grieve," Emily Kim said.

During the two-hour event, speaker after speaker poured out their hearts.

"This past week my body has been dominated with anxiety, fear, bottomless grief and rage," organizer David Tran said in front of the crowd.

For some, it was an opportunity to set the record straight.

"I am not a fetish. I am not a temptation. I am not a treat when your wife isn't looking. I am not in your anime dream,” one speaker said.

Some others are demanding the same protections. 

"Safety is a right. Everybody deserves to be safe, all of us deserve to be safe,” another speaker said.

According to the group Stop AAPI Hate, a national study indicates hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic are up 150% nationwide.

"We need to support different ways in which we can get people the right kind of support, so they don't do those things that lead to last week," Danny Kim said.

The same group said it documented 42 reports of anti-Asian attacks in San Diego County from march through December of last year.

"See each other as human beings that have dignity and equality and every right to live," Emily Kim said.

Representatives of many faiths took the podium as well. Their message: an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us.

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