Reporting by Julia Tong, AsAmNews Intern, and Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Hundreds of people across the country gathered on both social media and in cities across the country Thursday night to honor the memory of 19-year-old Christian Hall.
A group called Justice for Christian Hall organized a virtual vigil on Clubhouse Thursday as well as vigils in multiple U.S. cities and in Canada and the Philippines.
“Christian Hall was not just a boy on the bridge… He was a human being. He had a family. He had parents. He had cousins. He had a life,” said his mother Fe Hall who along with her husband Gareth, adopted Hall from China.
On December 30, 2020, Pennsylvania State Police responded to a call about a young man in the midst of a mental health crisis on a freeway overpass in Monroe County.
An investigation by the District attorney there concluded in April that officers were justified in shooting Hall.
However, a new video obtained through the Freedom of Information Act just last month showed Hall was not pointing his gun at police, but had his hands up.
“I watched the cell phone video that is now circulating all over my Instagram. I am mortified,” said Jessica, a high school organizer of a vigil held in Pennsylvania. “Christian, everyone here tonight cares about hearing your story. Myself, your parents, and every other person here tonight have been doing absolutely everything we can to make sure that you are never forgotten. Your death will not be in vain.”
The family is asking the Pennsylvania State Attorney General to launch an independent investigation of the shooting. In Pennsylvania, the Attorney General’s office can only get involved if requested to do so by the District Attorney.
“There’s a cover-up, and there shouldn’t be,” said Nicole, an aunt of Christian who spoke in New York City. “There’s no oversight in Pennsylvania. Basically, the police can do whatever they want, and it’s up to the DA who works with the police to refer this case to the AG.”
“As an Asian American, Vietnamese American, Transracial and Intercountry Adoptee and War Orphan, I ask myself what did they see in Christian Hall that made them shoot to kill, knowing he was suicidal, and needing mental health resources,” asked Adam Chau, who organized the vigil on Clubhouse. (full disclosure-Chau also volunteers as a staff writer for AsAmNews). “What parts of xenophobia and racism towards Asian Americans played into the choice of the police to kill a young man, still a boy in so many respects, versus helping to save his life? In that respect, we must continue to ask questions and to fight negative stereotypes and narratives about us as a community and individuals.”
“We need to fight for a different world. A world where we matter, and we come first, and that everyday people are the ones that matter more than profit. So our demands are: we demand a full impartial investigation,” said Rachel of the Act Now to Stop Racism Coalition who attended the vigil in New York.
His family hopes his death will lead to a greater emphasis on mental health services to reach people like Christian before it’s too late.
“As a parent who went through it and as a teacher today, it pains me to see the waiting lists of our children,” said his father Gareth Hall. “Maybe we need to create incentive programs to encourage participation in these fields of study. I don’t know what the answer is, but we need to do something and we need to do it soon.”
Amidst the calls for justice is a human being who had a future. Family and friends asked that the world remember Christian as a person.
“He was always loving, and he was always laughing, and he always had a lot of energy, was joking around and doing something,” said his best friend Daniel.
Christian’s mother shared a message for her son with those at the vigil in Pennsylvania.
“A life you’ve touched shown in your kindness, your hug, your smile, your loyalty,” said Fe Hall. “Your ability to love so deeply made a difference…I know your dream would have lasted eight years when you were ripped away from the only family and security that you have built.”
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