SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Amid the gleaming skyscrapers of downtown San Francisco, music and candles met by pain in Portsmouth Square Thursday night, where hundreds gathered to remember the victims of the mass shooting in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park.
"We ran out of candles. We could've had three times the amount of candles. I'm overwhelmed by how many people were touched enough to come out and spend their evening with us," said Lily Ho.
Ho, with the Delta Chinatown Initiative, was one of the vigil's organizers.
She says the shootings, which are extremely rare in the Asian community, have shaken it to its core and come at a time of heightened anxiety.
"The trauma in our community, I think, has come to a boiling point for some of these individuals. We've been through years of anti-Asian hate, senseless violence," Ho said.
But Thursday's vigil was about more than just remembering the lives lost. It was also a chance to discuss difficult subjects like trauma and mental health.
Josephine Zhao tells me those topics are often times taboo within AAPI communities.
Zhao says she's been working years to help get rid of the stigma that's prevalent within her own culture.
She believes by doing so, it will help more people fight inner demons and prevent more tragedies from happening.
"Basically, things that we want to shove under the carpet. We don't want anybody to know. If any struggle or dispute within the family, it is ugliness on the family and we don't want it to be spread," Zhao said.
But for many here, the grieving has only just begun.
"The Asian community is already suffering, so just to physically be here and be in the presence of everyone already puts me in a little better mood," said Jade Tu.
A process that will require everyone, one step at a time.
"From our friends and families and communities. Only when we become vulnerable and start to share how we feel and how I feel internally and what kind of help I need, then other people know how to give me the help I needed," Zhao said.
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