#StopAsianHate vigil remembers victims of Atlanta shootings

Hundreds gathered Thursday evening to remember the lives lost in the Atlanta shootings last month and to pledge an end to anti-Asian hate.

Monica Nakashima, Contributing Writer

As cell phone flashlights lit up Foster Auditorium, Hyunjin Noh stood on stage and read the names of the six Asian women killed in the Atlanta shootings on March 16: Hyung Jung Grant, Xiaojie Tan, Yong Ae Yue, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park and Daoyou Feng.

After reading the names of the victims to a crowd of about 200 people, Noh returned to her seat and the auditorium lights were dimmed for a moment of silence. 

Noh is an associate professor of social work. She’s also a member of the Korean Faculty and Staff Association, and one of the organizers for Thursday night’s vigil. 

Members of the UA and Tuscaloosa community gathered to acknowledge the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and to remember the victims of the recent Atlanta shootings, where a white gunman killed eight people, including six Asian women.

Hwan-Sik Yoon, associate professor of mechanical engineering and secretary of the Korean Faculty and Staff Association, expressed condolences to the families of the victims of anti-Asian hate crimes. 

Both Noh and Yoon have worked in the University of Alabama system for nine years. They said they were both in shock after the Atlanta shootings and experienced a new sense of fear surrounding hate crimes. 

It can happen anywhere if I just walk on the street. It could happen to me.

— Hwan-Sik Yoon

“Since the shooting incident, I find myself being constantly hypervigilant, living in fear and traumatized by the second-hand experiences of all the Asian hate crimes shown in the media,” Noh said. “It certainly has compromised our sense of safety.”

Yoon said he felt vulnerable, especially after hearing the news of 65-year-old Vilma Kari being attacked in New York and seeing the video of an Asian man being attacked on a Manhattan subway car this week. 

“[Hate crimes] are not something that may happen in some isolated place,” Yoon said. “It can happen anywhere if I just walk on the street. It could happen to me.”

Christine Taylor, VP for DEI, said the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes should not be ignored on campus.

“We come together tonight to stand together, speak up and talk about hate and our need to stop it in our community,” Taylor said. 

Teresa Wise, associate provost for international education and global outreach, and Myron Pope, vice president for student life, spoke briefly before introducing student, faculty and staff speakers. UA President Stuart Bell also attended. 

“This is a really important event to remember and commemorate the lives that were taken in Atlanta and quite recently,” Wise said. “We also gather to condemn anti-Asian hate and violence in any of its forms, no matter where it appears.”

The vigil was sponsored by Chinese Faculty and Staff Association, Korean Faculty and Staff Association, Asian American Student Association, Chinese Student Association, Korean Student Association, the Division of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and UA Athletics. 

The Division of DEI will hold webinars via Zoom throughout April to address anti-Asian hate and bias. More information will be made available on the DEI website