Saturday, May 25, 2024

Youth activists call for action following Monterey Park shooting

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Following the string of mass shootings in recent days, youth activists gathered Saturday evening near the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to express their frustration and anger at the lack of action to end gun violence.

The names of the victims of the Monterey Park shooting were displayed on white pieces of paper that decorated a makeshift stage. And fresh among them were three “unknown” victims from a deadly shooting that occurred Saturday morning in Benedict Canyon.

The youth activists, including organizers with the March for Our Lives Los Angeles, gathered to honor the victims of last week’s Monterey Park shooting that left 11 people dead. Since that shooting, seven others were killed in a separate shooting in Half Moon Bay.

Anna Pham, a 16-year-old junior at Murrieta Valley High School and a co-organizer with the March for Our Lives Los Angeles chapter, shared her frustration to a small crowd.

“Just seven days ago, 11 lives were lost. Six days ago, seven more. … And 12 hours ago — just 12 hours ago — three more,” Anna said. “But when is it time for systematic change in the totality of an issue that is slowly writing our death sentence?”

After the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., March for Our Lives began organizing young people across the country. Shekinah Deocares, 25, said politicians who continue to receive money from the National Rifle Assn. have failed to put human lives over money.

“These lives are on your hands,” Deocares said. “This blood is on your hands, and your inaction won’t be tolerated anymore.”

Sim Bilal, 21, who is Korean and Black, said that he felt a sense of loss after the shooting in Monterey Park.

“That was one of the safest places in this country to raise a family, and that hope, that fragile little bubble where you thought you were safe, where you thought your children were safe, where you thought your grandparents were safe. … You thought that was sacred, [only] to be broken and shattered by a bullet,” Bilal said.

Although the turnout was small, organizers felt it was important to keep reminding the community that mass shootings continue to happen at an alarming pace.

“All across the country we’re seeing this happen,” said Victor Shi, 20. “In 2023 alone, let this sink in: There have been more than 40 mass shootings in the first 25 days of January. And that’s hard to comprehend, and I know it can be numbing, I know it can be exhausting. I know how tiring this can be. But we cannot let this become the new normal.”

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