PHOTOS: Los Angeles residents mourn the Urumqi fire victims

A group of Angelenos held a vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles.

A crowd of Angelenos gathered at the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, California on Monday evening. They stood in solidarity with the victims of the Urumqi fire in China, and criticized censorship and COVID-19 restrictions in China, calling for greater freedom of speech. (Photo by Bryce Dechert)

After 10 people died in an apartment fire in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang region in China, protesters blamed the country’s zero-COVID restrictions as a reason for their deaths. Firefighters were allegedly obstructed from entering the building, slowing rescue efforts. The deaths sparked a wave of protests in China, demanding the removal of COVID-19 restrictions and for freedom of speech.

In response to the fire and the protests that followed, a group of Angelenos organized and held a vigil on Sunday in front of the Chinese Consulate General.

About a hundred people came to show support, bringing flowers and candles. Many held a blank piece of paper as a symbol against state censorship in China. Attendees also sang songs such as “L’Internationale,” as a show of solidarity with the protesters.

A protester, clad in a mask and anti-COVID-19 lockdown policy slogans speaks to attendees. They furiously expressed their frustration over the current political situation in China. Protesters held signs supporting the victims of the Urumqi fire.  (Photo by Aorui Pi)
A participant lights a candle to add to the memorial commemorating the victims of the fire. Candles and chrysanthemums are traditionally used in Chinese funerals. (Photo by Aorui Pi)
A participant holds a sign that demands for freedom and democracy. (Photo by Aorui Pi)
A protestor sings from a lyric sheet. Participants gathered and sang songs such as “Farewell,” by Shutong Li to mourn the victims of the Urumqi fire, and “Do You Hear the People Sing,” from “Les Misérables,” in solidarity with the protests in China. (Photo by Aorui Pi)
Masks with fake blood were scattered among the candles, highlighting the deaths caused by quarantine measures. (Photo by Aorui Pi)
A live streamer films a participant lighting a candle. Protesters came from as far as San Francisco to join the protest and vigil at the Chinese Consulate. In the foreground bouquets of chrysanthemums were laid in a pile. (Photo by Aorui Pi)
Protesters hold white candles, blank sheets of paper, and a blank whiteboard to protest against censorship in China. In the background, others carry signs demanding freedom from censorship. (Photo by Aorui Pi)
A participant looks on to the Consulate building with a piece of paper taped to her back reading “(we) need freedom.”. (Photo by Aorui Pi)
A protester holds a sign supporting the Uyghur ethnic group in China. The Uyghur where predominantly live in Urumqi, Xinjiang. (Photo by Bryce Dechert)
A participant holds a sign with “Urumqi M Road” written on it, a reference to the road in Shanghai where the first protest started. Authorities removed the “Urumqi Road” road sign due to the increasing number of protesters in Shanghai. (Photo by Bryce Dechert)