Dozens of family members and friends gathered in Prospect Park on Wednesday to plant a tulip tree in honor of Christina Yuna Lee, the 35-year-old who was killed at her home in Lower Manhattan in February.
The ceremony took place under sunny skies on the banks of Prospect Park lake, as families went by in pedal boats.
“She was an artist,” said Charles Yoon, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, who addressed the crowd. “She used to come and enjoy the park and it's a beautiful setting and with the planting of the tree, there's at least looking forward to the future, and hope that the future will be better.”
Lee’s death was one of several violent killings of Asian New Yorkers earlier this year, amid a sharp rise in anti-Asian violence nationally. According to the NYPD, anti-Asian hate crimes in New York increased by 361% in 2021 over the previous year, and the group Stop AAPI Hate said it had received 10,905 reports of anti-AAPI hate between the start of the pandemic in March 19th, 2020 and December 31st, 2021.
She used to come and enjoy the park and it's a beautiful setting and with the planting of the tree, there's at least looking forward to the future, and hope that the future will be better.
Her younger sister Angela Yujin Lee told the crowd that “over $400,000” had been raised in Christina’s name, an amount that would go to a new nonprofit organization, the Christina Alliance.
“The Christina Alliance will continue to support causes that were important to Christina and aim to provide advocacy for underrepresented groups,” she said.
The organization’s website noted that beneficiaries so far included Womankind, Planned Parenthood, Elizabeth Street Garden and Safewalks.
Lee was stabbed to death in her Chrystie Street apartment after arriving home in the early morning of February 13th. A suspect, Assamad Nash, has been charged with murder, burglary and sexually motivated burglary.
After a prayer and remarks, participants threw flowers on the soil surrounding the sapling, after which parks employees erected a protective fence around the tree.
A sign noted that the tree had been planted “in celebration” of Lee “By Those She Loved” and cited a line of dialogue from Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 film Fanny and Alexander, “Perhaps we have no limits, perhaps we flow into each other, stream through each other, boundlessly and magnificently.”