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Asian-American community already devastated by hate calls for unity following mass shootings

Two mass shootings in two days in California kill at least 18 people right at the beginning of Lunar New Year.

TAMPA, Fla. — A community already under attack now overcome with sadness is asking themselves when will enough be enough.

The first shooting on Saturday in Monterey Park, California, a predominantly Asian-American neighborhood just a few miles outside of downtown Los Angeles, left 11 people dead near where hundreds were celebrating the first day of Lunar New Year.

On the second day of the celebration, a shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, less than one hour south of San Francisco, killed at least 7 people. Four at a mushroom farm. Three others at a trucking business. 

While a motive in either mass shooting is not clear, it's yet another blow for the Asian-American community nationwide.

"I cannot lie, I was so nervous yesterday morning. That kind of is sad," Tina Bohn, a member of the Suncoast Association of Chinese Americans, said of the shooting in Monterey Park. "The fact that that happened in such a festival with such a good intention and a big event for Chinese New Year. This is not supposed to happen."

Here at home, the celebration of rich culture and a new year continued on Sunday. Despite the tragedy, there was no intention to cancel the event. Extra security from the Tampa Police Department was requested despite there not being an active threat to the event.

"I was shocked, but we couldn't cancel," Janet Ho, the President of the Suncoast Association of Chinese Americans, said. "I think a lot of Chinese people, Asian people, are somewhat stressed out from the you know, the past few years, and all the things that happen all over the country, like the hate crimes."

No matter the generation, the sentiment is the same.

"I wasn't really shocked by all of this," Tee Chulikavit, a USF student, said. "I was disappointed, hurt, but definitely not surprised. It's just like you know, we can't have anything really like this country sort of."

His family is originally from Thailand. At just 22 years old, he says he's experienced hate because of his race and culture more than once.

"Me and my brother, we've been asked to leave restaurants, like at the onset of COVID-19 for making people nervous," Chulikavit said. "I felt cheated because, you know, I was born here. I deserve the rights of anyone else. I don't deserve any of this."

The last few years have devastated a loving Asian community. From hateful words to targeted mass shootings, they say it gets harder on their heart.

"We need to interact with the community more," Ho said. "It's not just celebrating our own culture, our own holidays. We should just open up for everybody to welcome everyone to join us."

Their hope is pride in their culture will help educate others and lead to a more peaceful future.

"You have to keep the faith and you have to believe the good of humanity," Bohn said.

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