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Ohioans look for healing after Monterey Park shooting

An Asian woman walks past flowers and candles left on the sidewalk near Star Dance Studio to honor victims killed in a shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.
Jae C. Hong
Some flowers and candles are placed on a street corner near Star Dance Studio to honor victims killed in a shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.

A mass shooting in Monterey Park over the weekend – a predominately Asian American community in California – left Asian Americans around the country, including in Northeast Ohio, feeling devastated.

Eleven people died and nine others were injured in the attack, which took place during Lunar New Year Eve.

“I feel it with any mass shooting,” said Karis Tzeng, Vice President of Planning for MidTown, Inc. – the community development corporation that oversees Cleveland's AsiaTown neighborhood. “But particularly in a place that has become an immigrant home, that people have created to be a place of belonging and safety.”

Tzeng said MidTown is creating programs such as discussions and healing circles to provide people a space to process and grieve together.

“Our strength is really in being able to reach out to each other to strengthen each other and develop that community strength,” Tzeng said. "I think that's such a hope that I have, that we can be fostering that connection for healing and for feeling that resilience.”

It’s easy for people in minority groups to feel connected to incidents involving the same minority group, but Tzeng said that Asian Americans in Northeast Ohio could also likely have family either in or near Monterey Park, which is just east of Los Angeles.

That wasn’t lost on George Kwan either. Kwan leads the Kwan Lion Dance Group, a popular Lunar New Year act in Northeast Ohio. Kwan had multiple performances after waking up to the Monterey Park news.

“To know that there’s going to be some people that might have been affected, might have had family or relatives or friends that lived out there, that were victims of what was happening, Kwan said.

Kwan and his brother, who is also a member of the dance group, are both retired Cleveland police officers. He said they made some observations for safety-sake before performing yesterday.

Kwan said he appreciated chatting with local law enforcement before performing.

"They were visible. They walked the venues. I saw them interacting with all of our different spectators that day, so that was really kind of comforting,” Kwan said.

Governor Mike DeWine ordered that Ohio flags be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the Monterey Park victims.

Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.