BOISE, Idaho — On Tuesday, a local vigil was held to honor and mourn the victims lost in the Atlanta spa shootings on March 16 and raise awareness on hate crimes against Asian American, Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.
The vigil was organized by the Boise Valley Japanese American Citizens League. Hundreds gathered at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise to pay respects to the eight people killed, including six Asian women.
Yang Gao is the president of the Idaho Chinese Organization (ICO) who attended the vigil. ICO had released a statement denouncing hate crimes against AAPI communities.
“If we actually talk with each other, express our concerns to find a solution I believe things will be better,” Gao said.
During the vigil, the names of the victims were read out loud. Wency Suo, a member of the Idaho Chinese Organization Youth Branch, attended the remembrance and was one the individuals who organized a vigil at the front steps of the Capitol on Saturday.
“To bring light to all the violence and microaggression that a lot of Asian Americans face, even here in Boise. I think is super important especially our youth voices to speak out about such issues because we have strength in numbers and strength in voices,” Suo said.
Suo said she’s experienced microaggression while she was in elementary school
“People (would) squint their eyes at me or straight up tell me that my food looks inedible or that I shouldn’t bring it to school. Even though it may seem very minuscule events, these are events that a lot of Asian Americans go through in our lifetime which is really sad. Because to see all of this racism to be so normalize especially in the Asian community to the point where every single person goes through it. It’s really disheartening," Suo said.
For other attendees, the outpouring of support from the community meant a lot.
“It really makes me feel good that even people outside the AAAPI community understand and are here with us and stand with us to fight for justice,” said William Wang.
According to a STOP AAPI HATE national report, nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported over the last year and that verbal harassment and shunning are two of the main incidents AAPI communities are facing.