President Joe Biden hosted the White House’s first Lunar New Year reception on Thursday, assuring Asian Americans of his support on the heels of mass shootings that have affected the community in the past week.
“It’s wonderful to see so many friends on this special holiday, even as we gather with such heavy hearts,” Biden said in his opening remarks. “Our prayers are with the people of Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, and after yet another spree of gun violence in America.”
The president admitted to having doubts about proceeding with the celebration, but he was encouraged by Rep. Judy Chu — who represents Monterey Park — to push through.
“She said, ‘We have to move forward,’” Biden shared. “Her message was ‘Don’t give into fear and sorrow. Don’t do that. Stand in solidarity — in the spirit of toughness that this holiday is all about.’”
On Monday afternoon, a pair of mass shootings at Half Moon Bay mushroom farms killed seven people, who were reported to be of Asian and Hispanic descent.
The suspect in the Monterey Park shooting was found dead from an apparent suicide, while the shooter in the Half Moon Bay massacre has been arrested and charged. Authorities are still determining the motives in both cases.
In his speech, Biden insisted that hate has no place in the U.S.
“Yet for all the progress, this community has experienced profound hate, pain, and violence and loss. As I’ve said before, hate can have no safe harbor in America. No person deserves to be treated in a hateful way,” he said.
The president signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in May 2021. Last week, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders launched the first-ever “National Strategy to Advance Equity, Justice and Opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities.”
Biden vowed to continue speaking up for the community.
“Silence is complicity. We cannot be silent. I will not be silent,” he said.