The Observer: Community mourns lives lost in Atlanta shootings, stands against anti-Asian discrimination

Author: Alysa Guffey

Asia and Asian Studies organized a prayer service Thursday night in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to honor the eight victims of multiple shootings at spas across Atlanta and to pray for anti-Asian discrimination associated with the attacks.

About 50 students and community members came to pray together in person, with others joining through a live stream.

Fr. Pete McCormick, director of campus ministry, opened the prayer service, saying the community was gathered together to remember those lost to the senseless violence.

“While tonight we honor the lives lost, we also commit ourselves to making the world just a little bit more dignified, just a little bit more humane by the way we go about living our lives by what we do what we say what we prioritize,” McCormick said.

McCormick prayed for Asians in the community and all those affected by the targeted attacks.

Fr. Brian Ching, rector of the Basilica, then spoke on the shootings and the resulting grief, first referencing the dissolution of the Japanese internment camps in 1942 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a discriminatory action against Asians originally put into place after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ching described this action of othering as a response to fear.

“Fear, friends, often drives it all,” Ching said. “Fear can lead us to think and do perhaps the most unthinkable, most vile, most unjust things.”

Reflecting on not responding with fear, Ching said evil is not the response to evil.

“Evil is not the last word,” he said. “Hate is not victorious.”

Ching spoke on the first Japanese infantry constructed during the period of internment that went on to become one of the most awarded infantries in United States history.

“They did not let others’ fear dictate how they should live, and they responded to the fear of others with courage, with boldness, with love,” Ching said. “Being willing to lay down their lives for the very ones interning their parents, their siblings, their friends.”

Professor of film, television and theatre and Liu Institute faculty member Tarryn Chun read a prayer of lament for the Asian community.

“May we love those who are strangers and those who are friends,” Chun said. “And even more so those that are our enemies.”

Matt Cabrera, president of the Asian American Association on campus, read the names of the eight victims. Eight candles were lit, one for each victim.

McCormick closed the service by reminding those that the solution is love.

“How might we in our lives bring that love into our communities?” McCormick said.

After the service, the candles were walked to the grotto by a select few individuals due to social distancing protocols. McCormick asked those gathered to make a trip to the grotto this weekend to remember those lost.

Original piece published in The Observer at