The morning of January 17, 1989 at Cleveland Elementary School was just like any other Tuesday. The kids then gathered outside for recess at lunchtime. Sinath “Mike” Vann, who was in the second grade at the time, recalls hearing the gunshots while on the playground. The Stockton, California native told Teen Vogue, “I remember being happy but also bewildered because I didn’t know what was happening.” “I initially mistook the gunshots for fireworks.”
Patrick Purdy, 24, parked his car behind the school, walked up to the playground, and then spent the next few minutes shooting 105 shots into the group of kids with a semiautomatic assault weapon, killing five and injuring 30 others, including a teacher, before taking his own life.
All of the victims, including Sokhim An (age 6), Ram Chun (age 8), Oeun Lim (age 8), Rathanar Or (age 9) and Thuy Tran (age 6), were from Southeast Asia; four were refugees from Cambodia and one from Vietnam who had fled violence in their home countries only to encounter unspeakable tragedy in the United States. Just an hour prior to the incident, Purdy reportedly said to another guest at the motel he was staying at, “The dang Hindus and boat people own everything.”
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At the time, the Stockton schoolyard shooting—as it is frequently known—was regarded as one of the worst school shootings in the country. Although it attracted widespread publicity at the time, inspiring TIME’s “Armed America” cover story, Michael Jackson’s visit to a school, and paving the path for the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, today few Americans outside of Stockton are aware of the massacre. Even fewer people are aware that the shooting was an Asian-targeted racial attack.
The first chapter of Patrick Blanchfield’s upcoming book Gunpower: The Structure of American Violence, which includes a chapter on the Stockton massacre, makes reference to the shooting’s current relevance. Blanchfield told Teen Vogue, “I believe what makes reading about the shooting so strange is its uncanny familiarity. “It occurred in 1989, yet it might have occurred yesterday. This is a story you’ve heard before.
Just a few weeks prior to the terrible mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two adults, Teen Vogue spoke with Blanchfield.
According to the research, Stockton had one of the biggest Southeast Asian populations of any Californian city in 1989; approximately 1 in 6 of the city’s present people were born in the region. Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees who had left the atrocities of the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge dictatorship in Cambodia made up the majority of the villages.
Vann, who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand before emigrating with his family, remarked, “I wasn’t born in the United States, yet the weird thing is that I only remember Stockton.” We grew up in a poor, harsh neighbourhood where the bulk of the residents were Asian refugees from similar backgrounds, all of whom came from war-torn nations.
The school system chose three schools to offer bilingual services to pupils due to the significant immigrant population, Cleveland Elementary School being one of them. 70% of the students in the school were Southeast Asian at the time of the shooting.
Purdy has gone to the same school before. White male Purdy, who was born and raised in Stockton and spent most of his adult life there, had a difficult upbringing. Early in his life, both of his parents neglected him, and he had admitted to employees that his mother was an alcoholic. As he grew older, he accumulated a lengthy criminal record that includes arrests for offences including drug use, prostitution, and vandalism in addition to others.
Purdy was completely covered in paramilitary clothing when he entered the Cleveland Elementary School playground: a camouflage shirt, a green flak jacket, blue trousers, and black boots. Several dozen plastic toy soldiers were standing watch in his motel room, including one on the TV stand, another on the bathroom curtain rod, and one inside the fridge-freezer. When authorities inspected the room later, they also discovered additional items.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton, California: 5 children were killed and 29 kids and a teacher were wounded when a man with a long criminal history opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle. https://t.co/PNjlYZcZHb pic.twitter.com/n9EOUQL3t0
— The Trace (@teamtrace) January 17, 2019
According to analysts at the time, Purdy wasn’t any more prejudiced than other white residents of Stockton after the Vietnam War, Blanchfield recalled. We can read it, though. It is readable. There is no justification for Purdy’s behaviour. He’s obviously a part of the simmering anti-Asian bigotry that permeates society. However, he is also a victim of both war and the patriarchy of white men.
Blanchfield claims that the media ignored Purdy’s anti-Asian prejudice and brutality in favour of focusing on the police call for gun regulation in the wake of the Stockton killing, with a focus on outlawing Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles like the one Purdy used. “Almost soon, the police, then the media, then the politicians start talking about hypothetical victims and cops that may be killed by this deadly weapon,” Blanchfield said.
“Instead of talking about the actual dead Asian refugee children slaughtered by an actual white supremacist.” When these incidents occur, strong organisations raise other problems pertinent to them, such as “let’s find ways to assert additional police forces,” rather than discussing the structural causes of the occurrence.
Nine months after the shooting, in October 1989, the California attorney general’s office issued a 99-page investigative report that appeared to support what many members of the community and activists already believed: Purdy’s actions were motivated by racial animus toward Southeast Asians. Purdy told coworkers in 1988 that he disliked comp/eting with Southeast Asians for jobs and that the United States “was admitting all the Vietnamese and communists into the country,” the thorough investigation states.
Six years ago, two white males allegedly used comparable words just before beating to death Vincent Chin, a Chinese American celebrating his bachelor celebration. Because the two Chrysler employees incorrectly connected Chin with the burgeoning Japanese car sector, economic competition in that case also served to heighten the racist actions of the offenders. Kindly visit our The Express website if you require any additional information.