Fujianese Immigrants Mourn Peter Wang

The Feb. 20 memorial service for Peter Wang at Chatham Square. (Photo via Sing Tao Daily)

A few dozen Fujianese immigrants gathered in Chatham Square on Feb. 20 for a memorial service for Peter Wang, the 15-year-old who was killed while trying to help his classmates run to safety during the school shooting last week in Florida. Participants said Wang, who was born to a Fujianese immigrant family in New York, was the pride of Chinese immigrants and the whole country. They also called for gun control, and for the government to recognize immigrants’ contribution to this country.

Wang, who was shot while he held a door to help other students escape during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, was the oldest of the three sons in a Fujianese immigrant family. His parents are from Shandou Village, Guantou Town, Lianjiang County of the coastal Fujian province in China. Many participants in the memorial service came from the same area.

Shanrong Wang, an uncle of Peter’s father Kongfeng, said Peter’s parents, like many other Fujianese immigrants, came to this country via smuggling. They met each other in the U.S. and worked in restaurants to make ends meet. Wang was born in New York shortly before his family moved to Florida to open a Chinese buffet restaurant. Shanrong said Kongfeng is a kind person who is always willing to help others. Wang’s parents tried their best to raise their sons to become courageous and responsible people who love this country. Wang’s grandparents, who are in their 70s, also live with them.

Shanrong said the family was devastated by the loss, but everyone is proud of Wang. And his own son told him: “If I were there, I would do the same.”

“Now Peter’s death has become a much-discussed topic on WeChat,” said Shanrong. “He showed this country that we Chinese also care about others and are ready to give our lives to save theirs.”

De Liang Zheng, president of the United Fujianese American Association, said the tightening up of immigration policy in the U.S. now creates an atmosphere that alienates immigrants. In particular, the Trump administration’s proposal to restrict family reunification green cards is unacceptable to many Chinese families. Wang’s united and loving family played a major role in shaping him into a hero. “The contribution of immigrant families to this country should not be overlooked,” Zheng said.

Yin Chau Tsang, another Fujianese community leader, said it is time for the U.S. to get serious about gun control. “How many young lives have to be lost to wake up the government?”

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