Emil Guillermo: Cries and screams in order after mass shooting in Allen, Texas mars AANHPI Heritage Month
Sadly, we interrupt the all-inclusive Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which now includes the quintessential American experience.
Mass gun violence.
What can we expect in an era of unprecedented anti-Asian violence–whether it’s intended or not? In this month honoring our presence in America, we are among the victims.
Four Asian Americans are among the eight killed by a suspected neo-Nazi sympathizer armed with an AR-15 style assault weapon in Allen, Texas.
Three of the four Asian Americans were of Korean descent, a couple in their 30s and their three-year-old son, according to the South Korean Consulate in Dallas. The oldest child of the couple, reportedly a five-year-old, was also shot and is in a local hospital.
The fourth Asian American victim was identified as Aishwarya Thatikonda, 27, according to news reports. Thatikonda moved from Hyderabad, India to the U.S. in 2018. After receiving an advanced degree in civil engineering from Eastern Michigan University, she worked as a project engineer with a local Texas firm.
She had just gotten a promotion, according to family members. She was shopping on a Saturday afternoon in America with a friend.
It’s enough to make you scream.
Maybe like Lia McGeever, a transgender activist in San Francisco.
Banko Brown and Stephen Guillermo
Mass shootings, individual shootings. They’re all bad. And there are too many of them in America.
We hear about the big ones, like the one in Texas this past weekend, but have you heard about Banko Brown?
On April 27, Brown, 24, a San Francisco transgender activist, was gunned down in an incident with an armed security guard at a Walgreen’s in San Francisco.
Last week, the San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins declined to file murder charges against the security guard, Michael Earl Wayne Anthony. Jenkins, in a statement, said that Anthony “believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense.”
The trans community rallied in protest. At the meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on May 2, activist McGeever showed her reaction to the authorities’ non-action by screaming out loud for the better part of a minute.
“There’s a lot of performative people on this Board, who will say one thing in support of black people, homeless people, trans people, and then immediately stab you in the face being racist, transphobic and anti-homeless,” McGeever said. “I don’t have any words prepared today. I just want you to feel our pain. I don’t know if you can at this point, based off your policy choices, but I have to pretend you have some form of empathy left. So I am going to spend the next minute screaming because that is what is going on in here. That is what the trans genocide in this country, in this city has brought me to.”
And then she shrieked, a loud and piercing cry.
I wish I had done that nine years ago when I spoke to the board urging them to take action about gun violence.
My words fell on deaf ears.
A scream might have woken them up.
And it would have expressed more than words any anguish and frustration I felt.
Last week, I wrote about my cousin Stephen’s murder in 2014.
After a night of partyingM Stephen went to the wrong apartment and was shot dead as he walked through the door.
The San Francisco DA at the time wouldn’t prosecute because the penal code allows for the shooting of an intruder if a homeowner is threatened. It’s the same self-defense grounds that the current DA is using to not prosecute for murder.
District attorney’s discretion, they call it. But really, it’s a lack of political will.
All we can do is continue to speak out and call for more legislation to restrict the use of guns. And we can call for local officials to act when gun violence results in the unnecessary deaths of my cousin, or of a Banko Brown.
And when it comes to the use of guns in mass shootings where self-defense is not an issue, but just the evil purpose of the most efficient killing of human beings in the least amount of time, then we must have an assault weapons ban. Red flag laws. Restrictions and restraints. We need them all.
This is not a mental health issue.
This is a political leadership issue. Those who remain beholden to the gun lobby are just too cowardly to lead.
McGeever has the right idea. Words are empty rhetoric in this debate.
For the innocent individuals in society who have fallen one by one, and for those who have fallen together in places like Allen, it is time for all of us to scream.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.