By Shirley Lew, AsAmNews Staff Writer
(Editor Note: Shirley Lew met one of the victims of a brutal killing that left four dead in New York’s Chinatown this weekend. She gave this eulogy at a vigil for the victims yesterday)
My friend Kim and I thank you for coming to today’s vigil, to remember the victims of this horrific crime. We are here today to tell you about an innocent man, a gentle man and a polite man.
This man has a name and a face. His name is Kwok Chuen. To Some
He is “Kwok sook sook,” Uncle Kwok in Cantonese.
He was brutally attacked while just trying to sleep, something we all do. He died sleeping in hopes of waking up to see what lies ahead for him tomorrow at his home on the corner of Bowery and Doyers Street.
Mr. Kwok was approximately 83 yrs old and from Hong Kong. We heard he had once lived on East Houston Street and had a job in which he flew a great distance for work, most likely working at a restaurant and not returning home for weeks. This was very common for Chinese immigrants to do decades ago and we heard he was a hard working man.
On September 23, Kim bought him some food and we went together to give it to him.
When we approached him he sat there on the corner with no shoes on. His shoes were placed next to him, but I realized he couldn’t possibly be able to wear them for his toe nails were very very long. He sat there scratching, in need of a bath as we approached him.
We gave him the roast pork buns and a bottle of water. We told him about The Bowery Mission, which is just a few blocks away to get more food and a shower. We told him they may help him find a place to sleep.
We asked for his name and we introduced ourselves. He only spoke Cantonese, so we wrote his name in English phonetics and a message on a piece of paper that he needed “food and a shower” to hand to The Bowery Mission when he entered. We told him it was not very far. Kim sternly told him in Chinese, “You must go there.” He nodded and spoke softly as he thanked us.
The last time Kim saw Mr. Kwok was Friday after noon when she gave him more food. On Saturday, afternoon, Kim learned about the brutal beatings and rushed over to Bowery and Doyers St only to have her fears confirmed that Mr. Kwok was gone. Where he once lived and slept is now filled with flowers and candles.
Although Mr. Kwok and the other victims were homeless, they are not nameless, and I am 100% positive they were once loved by someone and cared by someone they loved.
There is so much attention a few blocks south of us where billions of dollars is spent and exchanged. Chinatown, and the entire LES wants that same attention too. We want the city to know our community matters and so does our homeless. Come listen to what our needs are so that more lives are saved than lost.
After the vigil Kim and I invite you to join us at the corner as we put up his photo where he slept.
May Mr. Kwok and the other victims Rest In Peace and we wish for a quick recovery to the hospitalized victim.
Thank you all for attending the vigil to learn who Mr. Kwok Chuen was, “a polite humble gentleman.”
Details of the funeral for the four victims are still to be determined.
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