Local activists organize Thousand Oaks candlelight vigil

Community responds to recent spike in AAPI hate crimes, Atlanta spa shooting


Allie Wang/Talon

Candles were lit in a heart shape in memory of the Atlanta spa shooting victims.

A candlelight vigil was held at the front lawn of the Thousand Oaks Civic Plaza on March 20 to mourn the lives of those killed in the Atlanta spa shootings as well as other victims of anti-Asian violence. 

“We all agreed that something needs to be done to curb the hate crimes and it is very important to do it,” Oak Park Unified School District parent Ning Rosenthal wrote to the Talon. “We all agreed that it’s doable and it’s important to do it.” 

Following the United Chinese Americans’ call for a nationwide vigil, Rosenthal reached out to her friends and decided to organize a similar event in the community. The planning committee consisted of Rosenthal and eight other Chinese community activists.

Various community members gather on March 20 at the Thousand Oaks Civics Art Plaza to pay homage to the Asian American community in light of recent hate crimes. (Allie Wang/Talon)

“We started making posters, contacting the police, the TO city council, and the media, buying flowers and candles, planning an event program, organizing youth speakers, and inviting neighbors and friends to the event,” Rosenthal wrote. 

Bing Xu Liu, an Oak Park High School parent who helped organize the event, was surprised by the turnout. 

“I didn’t expect there [to be] so many local residents to join us. It turned out we got around 420 supporters,” Liu wrote to the Talon. 

Additionally, youth speakers shared their experiences with racism at school and about the rising number of hate crimes against Asians.

TIME magazine cover next to flyers containing information about the event. (Allie Wang/Talon)

“Usually it feels a bit nerve-wracking to speak to such a big group, but I loved it. When you’re speaking about something you’re passionate about, stress-ensuing things like giving a speech turns out to be much easier. Speaking out last week means that I didn’t have to keep in my opinions any longer, that my community was actually interested in what I had to say. Speaking out is so, so important in times like these,” Medea Creek Middle School student Joy Chu wrote to the Talon.

An attendee holds up a sign during the candlelight vigil. (Allie Wang/Talon)

While the Stop AAPI Hate movement has received support from many non-AAPIs across the country, many feel there is still a lot more to be done.

“Speaking up is just the first step to stop the hate. We have a lot more things to do to curb racism, to promote equality, and to create a safe and peaceful environment for everyone in our community. We will keep working on long term solutions,” Rosenthal wrote.

OPHS sophomores Anne Hambly (left) and Jasmine Liu (right) holding signs to protest anti-Asian hate (Allie Wang/Talon)