Los Angeles elected officials, faith leaders and cultural leaders will gather at First AME Church of Los Angeles Monday for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims killed last week in the racist and hate-motivated mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Laguna Woods.
The vigil is hosted by the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department and will include the department’s executive director Capri Maddox, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmen Curren Price and Paul Koretz, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore, First AME Church Pastor J. Edgar Boyd, Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Deacon Daniel Tamm, Rev. Sam Shin of the Korean American Christian Coalition, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles Connie Chung Joe, Bishop of Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles John Harvey Taylor, Executive Director of Intelect-Love-Mercy Foundation Umar Hakim Dey, Executive Director of Muslim-Jewish NewGround Aziza Hasan and representatives from Women Against Gun Violence.
The group will call for solidarity amid a rise in hate-motivated attacks, and will light a candle for each of the 11 victims killed during the two shootings: 10 in Buffalo on May 14 and one in Laguna Woods on May 15.
“We are hosting this vigil to honor the lives lost to hate in Buffalo and to create space for people to grieve, heal, and find community across cultures and across faiths,” Maddox said. “These deadly attacks were not isolated incidents. Hate crimes and racially motivated violence against many communities is rising in the U.S., including right here in Los Angeles. We need to stand together and make it known that when they come for one of us, they come for all of us.”
Killed in the Laguna Woods shooting was 52-year-old Aliso Viejo Dr. John Cheng, who authorities say charged the gunman inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in the 24300 block of El Toro Road, saving the lives of congregants attending a luncheon honoring a returning pastor. Thanks to Cheng’s efforts, other parishioners were able to tackle the gunman, ultimately hog-tying him with an electrical cord.
Authorities have said that the accused gunman, David Wenwei Chou, was motivated to carry out the shooting due to a longstanding grievance against Taiwan over tensions with China. Chou, a Taiwanese immigrant, lived in Las Vegas, but targeted the congregation in Laguna Woods on Sunday afternoon for reasons that are still under investigation.
That shooting came one day after a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo was targeted by a heavily armed shooter who killed 10 people and wounded three others. Authorities arrested 18-year-old Payton Gendron in that crime, which they said was racially motivated. Eleven of the 13 victims were Black.
Los Angeles honored the victims in Buffalo by lighting City Hall in orange, the color that gun prevention advocates and organizations have used to spread awareness about gun violence.
“We stand strong with the Buffalo community,” Garcetti said on Twitter after the shooting. He added that he joins with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition and Everytown for Gun Safety “to call for sensible gun safety laws.”
The Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department launched an anti-hate campaign in 2021 aimed at spreading the word about how to report hate crimes and incidents. The campaign encourages people who see or experience a hate crime or hate incident to report it to the Los Angeles Police Department or to an LA County Crisis Care Coordinator by calling 2-1-1 or 3-1-1 for hate incidents. Crimes in progress should be reported to 9-1-1.