HomeAsian AmericansCommunity gathers for Tou Ger Xiong’s vigil, announce new endowment in his...

Community gathers for Tou Ger Xiong’s vigil, announce new endowment in his name

by Adam Chau

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Foung Hawj, Mayors Melvin Carter and Ann Burt, and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan were some of those paying their respects to the life, work, and legacy of Tou Ger Xiong at a vigil on Saturday.

Xiong was an activist and comedian who was killed after being kidnapped while vacationing in Colombia earlier this month.

Hosted by emcees KaYing Yang and Wang-Yu Vu, the vigil took place at East Side High School in Woodbury MN, with a reception following afterward (and in the spirit of community, a breakdown of the space as well).

The vigil’s program included remarks from speakers like Senator Klobuchar and Mayor Carter, musical tributes like those from the Hmong Cultural Center Queej Group and Kace Vang of the popular group Destiny Band; stories from old classmates and fellow organizers; and words from his mother and brother, Sao Lou Vue & Eh Xiong, as well as other siblings, family, and friends.

Mayor Carter of Saint Paul, the city’s first Black mayor, recollected stories about himself and Tou Ger singing karaoke, telling people it was symbolic of Tou that no one knew if it would be a ballad, rock song, or country western, because Xiong connected to so many.

Lieutenant Governor Flanagan talked about the connections in loss and tragedy with Native American communities and the use of jokes and comedy in healing, while both Senators Amy Klobuchar and Foung Hawj talked of the meaningful work Xiong did in the community and the importance of bringing back his body to the United States. During the vigil, other local and state representatives attended, their names being called out in recognition of their support for Xiong and the Hmong community.

Other speakers (around 30 in total) reflected on the ways that Xiong inspired them or worked with them and other communities in creating spaces for themselves and other Hmong Americans, and the way that he fought for social justice and worked to organize around cases like the police shooting of Fong Lee.

Speakers reflected on Xiong’s kindness, noting how his smile would light up a room or how he would offer in times of need.

In addition to looking back at the life of Xiong, the family also talked of the new Tou Ger Xiong Endowment Fund to support Tou Ger’s legacy of building community and advancing social justice (more information can be found at gohmongboy.com).

The vigil concluded with a heartfelt poem written by Tou Ger Xiong, spoken in Hmong by his older brother Va Shoua, and a beautiful acoustic rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” by his nieces.

Vigil Photo Gallery
To view larger images, right click and open in a tab

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