A visit to the Star Dance Studio Memorial in Monterey Park


Gentle reader,

Last night, we visited the community memorial for the victims of the mass murder at Star Dance Studio, a social and teaching ballroom just off the main drag in the town of Monterey Park.

Although we live on the east side of Los Angeles, we do most of our shopping in the San Gabriel Valley. Never before has one of these sudden, deadly incidents hit so close to home.

Of course we have seen footage of the memorials that have spontaneously appeared after other mass murders. It’s always heartbreaking and moving to see how communities come together to hold each other up and to support the families of the victims.

But it feels very different when it happens in a place where you could easily have been, steps from an ordinary suburban surface parking lot behind the Bank of America, next to the noodle shop you’ve been meaning to try.

Crouching down on the asphalt to read notes inked on paper or chalked on the road, smelling the roses and bowls of oranges and incense sticks, seeing the flickering candles that were a mix of squat tea lights and tall Catholic votives, we felt the overwhelming presence of generations of brave people who have come to California from all over the world, seeking freedom and opportunity, hoping for a good life for themselves and their kids, leaving so much behind.

We hope that California can one day truly be the promised land they dreamed about.

The man with the gun, Huu Can Tran, seems to have been a miserable soul, unpleasant and hot tempered. We all know people like him. Their toxic personalities push people away, which serves to justify their hatred for humanity and validate their grievance collecting.

We wonder, how can we bring these broken, angry people back into the world? How can we heal them, and protect the innocent strangers who might be destroyed if their fuse finally blows outward?

If nothing else comes out of the communal outpouring of grief and respect that we experienced in that parking lot, we hope some fresh ideas about how to address mental health, anger and alienation will flow forth and make a difference, for Monterey Park, for California and everyone.

This is dedicated to the memories of My Nhan, Ming Wei Ma, Diana Tom, Xiujuan Yu, Lilian Li, Valentino Alvero, Muoi Ung, Hong Jian, Yu Kao, Chia Yau and Wen Yu.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


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