"We are American, too": Hundreds in New York rally against anti-Asian hate
More than 300 people joined some of New York's top elected officials and community leaders on Saturday afternoon to speak out against the rise in anti-Asian violence in the city and across the country.
Organized by the Asian American Federation (AAF), the Rise Up Against Asian Hate rally took place in Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, two blocks from where a 36-year-old Asian man was stabbed to death Thursday night.
Among the speakers recently was a victim: 61-year-old Filipino-American Noel Quintana, whose face was slit on the subway earlier this month. "I called for help, but nobody came to help," he said. "If they made a video of it, the perpetrator would be easy to identify." He urged people to be safe and aware and to record and report incidents. As he walked off the stage, the crowd sang his name.
Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng, who represents New York's 6th district and who drafted a resolution in the House of Representatives last September denouncing hatred against Asian Americans, said: "We have to make sure we don't fight racism with more racism. That we fight. " Racism with Solidarity. That we never put one group against the other. It's all against racism. We're Americans too. "
Noel Quintana, whose face was slit in the subway in early February, speaks at the Anti-Asian Hate Rally on Saturday, February 27, 2021. / Photo credit: Anokha Venugopal / Asian American Federation
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticized former President Donald Trump, whose use of terms such as "Chinese virus" and "kung flu" for the coronavirus fueled anti-Asian sentiment last year. "Bigotry against each of us is bigotry against all of us," said Schumer.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised that "anyone who commits an act of hatred against the Asian-American community will be found, arrested and prosecuted."
Attorney General Letitia James, referred to as an "ally" by AAF Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo, urged the community to report incidents to authorities. "Come to my office so we can do something about it. Come to my office so we can go after the people who hate us and shut them down," she said.
Representative Grace Meng speaks at the rally on Saturday. / Photo credit: Anokha Venugopal / Asian American Federation
James and many others shared messages of oneness with the AAPI community. They also endorsed Yu's calls for more targeted action, saying, "We need a patrol manned by police officers. A full-time, dedicated office ... that patrols the streets, patrols the subways and protects the Asian community from harm." The AAF and a larger group of organizations have called for community-based solutions to tackle bias incidents and hate crimes against Asian Americans, including recovery programs, language services, mental health services, and more.
Protesters at the rally on Saturday with signs / Credit: Anokha Venugopal / Asian American Federation
According to data from AAF, Stop AAPI Hate, the NYPD, and the NYC Commission on Human Rights, in 2020 nearly 500 Asians in New York were the target of bias or hate crimes ranging from verbal to physical assault, including acid attacks. Unemployment in the community has increased significantly since the pandemic began. Nationwide, at least half of Asian Americans continued to experience cases of direct racism, almost one in five of which were physical assault.
Celebrities have also got involved. Actor William Lex Ham, who has led marches and rallies across the country since last summer, appeared on Saturday. Actress Olivia Munn tweeted a video of an attack on a woman in Flushing, New York. Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu rewarded the identification of a suspect who fatally knocked 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee to the ground in Oakland, California with a reward of $ 25,000.
Governments have endeavored to stand together with the community and pass resolutions at the state and federal levels. But this, and President Biden's February order to denounce anti-Asian hatred, are largely symbolic, and activists say more concrete action is needed.
Late last year, the NYPD set up a task force on Asian hate crimes. In California, another state where attacks against the AAPI community have grown exponentially, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill allocating nearly $ 1.5 million to prosecute anti-Asian hate crimes.
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