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Mass shooting casts ‘a pall’ on SF’s Lunar New Year celebration

A line of red lanterns hang across a street in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Lanterns hang in celebration of Lunar New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown. | Getty Images | Source: Getty Images

The morning after a gunman in Southern California opened fire at a ballroom dance studio—killing 10 people and injuring 10 others—San Francisco leaders rallied with the community while law enforcement stepped up patrols for Sunday’s Lunar New Year kickoff celebration. 

Supervisor Matt Dorsey told The Standard in a phone interview Sunday that the community was rightly on edge, especially because the mass shooting in Monterey Park occurred as violent attacks against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have spiked over the course of the pandemic.

“Given the events of the last three years, and that this is a community that has been disproportionately targeted in the past, public safety is a concern,” Dorsey said. “I think it is sort of casting a pall over celebrations—that 10 people in our state lost their lives.”

Authorities said the suspect in the mass shooting was found dead Sunday with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Mayor London Breed and Chinese Consul General Zhang Jianmin were among the featured officials scheduled to speak Sunday at the Portsmouth Square event to mark the Year of the Rabbit. Others in attendance included state Sen. Scott Wiener, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and city supervisors.

San Francisco’s Lunar New Year festival is one of the largest in the world.

Four Chinese American organizations in the city—the Coalition for Community Safety and Justice, the Community Youth Center of San Francisco, the Chinatown Community Development Center and Chinese for Affirmative Action—released a joint statement noting “the sharpness of the pain and trauma that comes with such violent events.”

The statement also said resources will be provided at Lunar New Year events across the city over the next three weeks.

Evan Low, a South Bay assemblymember and chair of the state’s AAPI Legislative Caucus, said a vigil will take place Monday afternoon at the state Capitol.

William Gee, a spokesperson for the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade, said the community was reeling from the attack on what would normally be a joyous occasion. But, he added, law enforcement was providing a presence to help keep people safe at local events.

“We’re incredibly saddened and heartbroken by the events that recently happened in Monterey Park and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims,” Gee wrote in a statement.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi also expressed her condolences to those affected by the tragedy.

“Let us pray for the victims of the Monterey Park shooting and their families, and we thank all of the first responders,” the former House speaker wrote on Twitter. “As we pray, let us continue to work to end this senseless violence.”

State Treasurer Fiona Ma, who previously served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, issued a statement Sunday afternoon commending the first responders and calling for “sensible gun legislation.”

“I am deeply grateful to the heroic first responders who, like our affected communities, will long bear the emotional scars of this violence,” Ma said. “As we grieve this devastating loss, we must also recommit to supporting them all in the long road to mental health recovery ahead, and to honor them by preventing such senseless violence. Sensible gun legislation is required to make our communities safe for all families.”