Low turnout at Monterey Park reflection spaces worries community members about desensitization to gun violence


Photo credit: Maia Alvarez

A student views his computer, which displays notifications of recent mass shootings in the U.S. Since Jan. 16, six mass shootings have occurred, two of which took place in Los Angeles County. Graphic design by Maia Alvarez

By Surya Patil, Sports Editor

This year, there have been more mass shootings in the U.S. than there have been days.

This sobering statistic is one that has held true since 2019. Through the media, U.S. citizens see communal grief in the form of mourning family members, mass vigils and anti-gun protests after these tragedies.

The recent Monterey Park shooting, which took place Jan. 21 during a Lunar New Year festival, was another example of violence impacting the Asian American community in the U.S. 

In an email to the community, Dean of Student Life, Equity and Inclusion Samantha Hazell-O’Brien wrote that Archer would hold two spaces for community members to reflect and process the mass shooting. History teacher Beth Gold invited students to her room to process their emotions Jan. 24. DEI Support Specialist Elana Goldbaum also opened her room to serve as a space where students could learn about the significance of Monterey Park in the larger context of Asian history in Los Angeles. They were also given the opportunity to write letters of support for the victims’ families.

Only faculty members attended Gold’s space. Three students attended Goldbaum’s space. Gold said she believes that many students and adults alike have become desensitized to the news of mass shootings and may have felt they did not need formal processing. She said she hopes they were able to find comfort with their friends and discuss the event in their homes.

“I think we’re getting more immune and desensitized to the violence. And at the same time, there’s a sense of defeat. It’s a cynicism, I think, about about an effective response to these mass shootings,” Gold said. “I read something that talked about [how] people [have] a general sense of public spaces not being safe: shopping malls, movie theaters and concerts. All of these places have been attacked by gun violence. I’m a big believer in people finding community and sharing experiences in public spaces, especially for young people and after the pandemic, where people couldn’t share public space.” 

To learn more about the Lunar New Year, and for extra credit in her Chinese class, sophomore Grace Ryan initially planned on attending the the Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park. However, she was not able to attend the event. Ryan said she was shocked to find out about the shooting and that the tragedy furthered the U.S.’s reputation of gun violence.

Unfortunately, mass shootings have almost been normalized. People think of America, especially people from other countries, and just think guns and violence. We’ve created a culture where we have become desensitized to this horrible violence.”

— Grace Ryan ('25)

“Unfortunately, mass shootings have almost been normalized,” Ryan said. “People think of America, especially people from other countries, and just think guns and violence. We’ve created a culture where we have become desensitized to this horrible violence.”

Gold said that regardless of whether students attended these reflection spaces, it is important that Archer provides resources and displays empathy.

“Archer acknowledges and sends communication of these events to the community. We know that different people in the community are impacted in different ways. The important part is that we empathize with everybody’s experiences and reactions to both the painful and joyous things that happen in the world,” Gold said. “The Monterey Park community is showing absolute grief and sadness, but a lot of the news coverage has been on the resilience and the coming together of community members.”

According to Pew Research Center, most Asian American adults say violence against their community is increasing, and one-third say they have altered their daily routines due to worry about attacks based on their racial identity. Senior Charlotte Tragos said that this shooting displayed the racialized violence that occurs in the U.S., which targets people of color and the American Pacific Islander community.

“Every time I get the notification, I have no words to react. I think ‘Oh my God, there’s been another shooting. How far away from home was it this time? It was pretty close.’ It’s horrible, and I think we need more legislative action, and everyone needs to do their part in ensuring that gun violence is not normalized,” Tragos said. “I appreciate the measures that Archer has is taking by holding spaces for conversation. There’s always more to do, but definitely in the immediate aftermath of shootings, having conversation and collaboration with peers is a great way to talk vulnerable, hard topics.”