Altar set up for farmworker victims killed in mass shooting, many say they're an invisible community
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - Two brothers were among the victims who were gunned down in Monday's mass shooting in Half Moon Bay.
Jose Romero Perez, 38, was a father who had been living in California while his wife and four children lived in Oaxaca, Mexico.
His brother, Pedro Romero Perez also was shot but survived after undergoing surgery at the hospital.
The relative says the Perez brothers came to Half Moon Bay about one year ago to work and live at the Mountain Mushroom Farm on Highway 92.
Another victim killed was Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, of Moss Beach who was also from Mexico.
Five of the victims were Chinese farmworkers...two were couples.
Zhishen Liu, 73, and Aixiang Zhang, 74, were husband and wife, Mandarin-speaking farmworkers who lived in San Francisco.
Qizhong Cheng, 66, and Jingzhi Lu, 64, were married Cantonese-speaking farmworkers in Half Moon Bay.
Another victim killed was Yetao Bing a 43-year-old farmworker.
"We do have some Asian Indian and Filippinos that are farmworkers, but Chinese it is really a rarity to have Chinese farmworkers," said Darlene Tenes, the founder of the Farmworker Caravan.
Late Wednesday night, her non-profit arrived in Half Moon Bay with a truck full of donations for the ALAS house, which works with local farmworkers and their families.
"Most farmworkers don't report things because the large majority are undocumented, 80-90% sometimes depending on their location," said Tenes.
Tenes says her team had taken photos just weeks before the mass shooting with workers who were living at the Mountain Mushroom Farm. The photos show the trailers where the farmworkers were living when volunteers brought food and donations to help
"The Farmworker Caravan just went there a few weeks ago for the week of Christmas," said Tenes.
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"I was thinking it was only Latino community working on the farms," said Zenon Barron, a volunteer from El Granada, "I never seen Chinese people. That was the first time I saw them."
"It's a horrible condition. They don't have anything there," said Barron, "I hear about they pay $9.50 an hour."
Longtime residents in Half Moon Bay brought flowers and messages to the Mac Dutra Park downtown where a memorial was created for the victims. Many say they were shocked, learning about the farmworkers, who they say are often an unseen and unheard part of the community.
"There's this invisible workforce that's feeding everybody that people outside the agricultural areas don't understand," said Laura Wilson, who brought a message to the memorial.
"It was an eyeopener that people were living on trailers on site. We've been driving by a million times on highway 92 and who knew?" said Brain WIlson, a Half Moon Bay resident.
A coalition of Asian and Chinese organizations are planning to gather in Redwood City Friday to figure out ways of helping to support the families.
Fundraisers have already been set up for Marciano Martinez-Jimenez, Jose Perez and the Half Moon Bay Fund.