Jan 23, 2023 - Podcasts

10 people killed in Monterey Park mass shooting

Ten people were killed and at least 10 others injured over the weekend in a shooting in Los Angeles County’s Monterey Park. It happened on the first day of the city’s annual Lunar New Year celebrations. The community holds an important place in Asian American history.

  • Plus, Ukraine's quest for tanks to combat Russia.
  • And, Lunar New Year traditions and memories to hold dear.

Guests: Dr. Timothy Fong, Professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento, and the author of The First Suburban Chinatown; Idrees Ali, national security correspondent for Reuters; Axios reporters Shawna Chen, Han Chen, and Hope King.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Alexandra Botti, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Fonda Mwangi and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It’s Monday, January 23. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Today: Ukraine’s quest for weapons for the next phase of war. Plus, Lunar New Year celebrations to hold dear. But first, another deadly mass shooting in America. That’s today’s One Big Thing.

Ten People Killed in Monterey Park Mass Shooting

NIALA: Ten people were killed and at least 10 others injured over the weekend in a mass shooting in Los Angeles County’s Monterey Park. It happened on the first day of the city’s annual Lunar New Year celebrations. The suspected 72-year-old shooter was later found dead in a van of what law enforcement said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said last night that all the victims were at least in their fifties and some possibly much older, and that the investigation is ongoing.

SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA: "We still are not clear on the motive. We want to know. We want to know how something this awful can happen"

NIALA: This was at least the 36th mass shooting so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Congressman Judy Chu--a former mayor of Monterey Park--also spoke at the Sunday evening news conference.

REP. JUDY CHU: "What I want to say to this community is: feel safe."

For some context on that community, I spoke to Dr. Timothy Fong, author of The First Suburban Chinatown, a book about Monterey Park.

DR. TIMOTHY FONG: It is the first city in the continental United States that was majority Asian. And, primarily, people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, a little less from China. It was a suburban community, eight miles east of downtown Los Angeles, right next to East LA, which was a Mexican American city. It has a history of being very liberal and open. It was one of the first cities in the United States that actually welcomed Japanese Americans after World War II. Many of the people who came were immigrants and they were educated. They were middle class. And so they came to the city and they were able to buy property, start businesses, and really change that community very quickly. The result was in Monterey Park, a lot of the businesses are Asian owned. Chinese language signs, the types of food, of overwhelmingly Asian. You go to a supermarket in Monterey Park, you'll hear Asian music. I think they're more Asian markets than there are, like, Safeway or more quote on quote traditional supermarket.

NIALA: In California, hate crimes against Asians rose more than 177% between 2020 and 2021. We don't know the motive for this crime as of now, we should be really clear. But how does this mass murder factor into a climate of fear? Many in the Asian American community are experiencing?

DR. FONG: It heightens the concern and the fear. That's the reality of, the experience of, of Asians in this period of anti-Asian hate. But We need to wait to see what is going on. There are some indications that it may simply be interpersonal, we have to understand as well that there's nuances. Asians – it's such a large, diverse diasporic community. It's not monolithic by any means. And there is antagonism between and within Asian groups. It's just more complicated, than it seems at first.

NIALA: Dr. Timothy Fong is a Professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento. Thank you, Dr. Fong.

DR. FONG: Thank you for having me.

NIALA: Coming up: Ukraine’s quest for tanks to combat Russia.

Germany won't agree to send tanks to Ukraine

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Ukraine says it badly needs more weapons to combat Russia, as it approaches a year of war, especially German-made Leopard 2 tanks. At a meeting of allies on Friday, Germany would not say whether it would send its tanks or allow other nations who have them to do so.

Then yesterday, Germany’s foreign minister said her country would not block Poland from sending its Leopard tanks to Ukraine if it chooses to do so -- welcome news to Kyiv. Though Germany remains mum on sending tanks itself.

Reuters’ Idrees Ali was in Germany covering this and is here with what we need to know. Idrees, what was this allies meeting all about?

IDREES ALI: Yeah, so I was with the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, in Berlin, and then a meeting of defense leaders at Ramstein Airbase – basically 50 defense ministers from around the world to come together and pledge weapons to Ukraine. And the expectation and the real focus was on what Germany would do, because the way the current battle is shaping up is that they'll need a lot more armored vehicles and Germany has the leopard tanks, which a lot of other countries have in the region as well. So, Austin met his German counterpart to try and push the Germans to accept the request from Poland and other countries to transfer the tanks to Ukraine.

NIALA: Why is there so much pressure on Germany now to be providing this?

IDREES: I think we need to look at sort of the broader context, right? Washington argues that it has provided the large bulk of weaponry and military aid. When it comes to an issue like tanks, Germany has a lot of them And so I think there's a growing sense, uh, within the Biden administration, which is to say, hey, we've provided 27 billion, not only is it time for you to step up, but your capabilities are the ones that are best suited for the current situation.

The counter-argument from the Germans is that they're saying, hey, we'll send our tanks if you, the Americans also send your tanks. The only issue is the Biden administration is not keen on sending these Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

NIALA: What are you hearing from military sources inside the Pentagon in terms of what Ukraine needs from a weapons perspective to win this war?

You know, it's interesting the way the, the weaponry has worked. So, the first phase we saw a lot of these anti-aircraft missiles, um, like stingers and Javelins. The second phase, we saw a lot of air defense systems because, you know, we've seen a trend of Russian attacks, missile attacks, against civilian targets, in cities. So air defenses were sent. And now we're in this territory or this phase where the Ukrainians are getting ready for the spring to carry out their own counter offensives, and, uh, get ready for Russian offensives. And so that's why we're looking at more heavily armor of vehicles, that will allow troops to be moved around in a safe manner, and that's why tanks are coming in such, such focus right now.

NIALA: Idrees Ali is a Washington based national security correspondent for Reuters. Thank you.

IDREES: Thank you.

Lunar New Year celebrations to hold dear

NIALA: Before we go today, we want to leave you on a hopeful note and by circling back to the Lunar New Year, which was kicked off yesterday. We asked some Axios reporters – and you – to share special Lunar New Year traditions and memories.

SHAWNA CHEN: My family lived in Shanghai when I was a child, and the best part for me would come during the countdown and we'd all gather outside, my sisters and I grabbing sparklers, writing our names in the air, as my dad positioned a firecracker and lit the fuse. He’d always try to time it just right so that we could watch it explode into the air as we reached midnight.

HAN CHEN: When I was growing up, Lunar New Year not only means seeing relatives but also some extra fun time at my youngest aunt's small karaoke bar back in my hometown. She would just always yell, “one more, one more!” She's always cheering me on, and that was, like, the sweetest memory I have for New Years.

CHRISTINE: For Lunar New Year, I used to live in China, but you know, now I'm in the States and I don't have this entire week off anymore. But my mom and I still try and keep some of the traditions. We went to Costco and bought a whole bunch of pineapple cakes and, more traditional Chinese sweets that we happen to find. Oh, and of course my mom's probably gonna check my horoscope and see if my birth year is going to have good luck here this year or not, and what to avoid. I just nod along and hope that this year brings me love!

HOPE KING: One of my favorite loner New Year traditions is just getting the house ready. There is a superstition that you're supposed to throw away all the trash in your house, before the new year, so that you make room for all the good new energy coming in, so I love doing that. And then decorating the house to welcome all that good energy. And wishing everyone a happy Lunar New Year.

NIALA: Thanks to Axios reporters Shawna Chen and Han Chen, listener Christine, and Axios reporter Hope King. Thanks to all of you who also sent in voice memos we didn’t have time to use. We’re so grateful for every single one!

And that’s all for today. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Thanks for listening, stay safe, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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