People march during a protest against Asian hate in New York, the United States, on March 21, 2021. Eight people, six Asians and two Whites, were killed in shooting incidents in the Atlanta area by a suspect this week. The attacks came amid a troubling spike in violence against the Asian American community during the coronavirus pandemic. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

As of Sunday, around 10 rallies have been held in New York City to mourn the victims in last week’s SPA shootings in Atlanta, and to protest against anti-Asian violence.

Union Square in Manhattan witnessed such rallies for three days in a row with hundreds of participants each time, attended mainly by Asian Americans, with appearance of elected officials and representatives of other ethnical groups.

BREAKING SILENCE

On Sunday morning among demonstrators at Union Square, Xue Zhou, a programmer working in New York, said that she joined the rally on Sunday to make her voice heard as many Asian Americans were used to being silent and thus neglected.

Shocked and angered by the Atlanta shootings that killed eight, including six Asian Americans, Asian descendants in America have shown solidarity so loud and firm as in these rallies.

“All the Asian including Chinese (Americans), we need to show our anger. We don’t want to be silent and don’t want to be a scapegoat,” said Grace Jin in the rally.”Now we need everyone to know in this country we are citizens. Nobody can do the same thing to us like before, like 100 years ago. That’s why we stand here (to let) everyone know we’re not viruses,” Jin added.

“What happened in the past few days, it’s really, really, really hits home for me as an Asian American woman, so I’m here to fight against racism and sexism, and the intersection of those things that really plague our daily lives,” said Yaine Dong, another demonstrator.

Ray Li, a ride-hailing driver, said sometimes people shouted at him “Go back to China or Chinese virus leave America” when he stopped at crosswalks.

According to a new USA TODAY/Ipsos poll conducted after the Atlanta mass shootings, one in four Americans, including nearly half of Asian Americans, in recent weeks have witnessed someone blame Asian people for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the world’s leading anti-hate organization, and Committee of 100 (C100), a non-profit organization of prominent Chinese Americans, jointly issued a statement on Wednesday calling on all elected officials and law enforcement to urgently address racism, discrimination and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with concrete actions.

“The violence and rhetoric that is happening now in these communities across the U.S. is horrific, sad, and unacceptable,” said C100 President Zhengyu Huang.

SHOWING SOLIDARITY

The common cause to fight against social injustice and vibrancy of the local community also drew support from a wide range of people regardless of race, gender or age, showing the spirit of solidarity.

“We’re all here, Asians, Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans. We’re here to provide support for each other,” said Dong, adding that, “We’re waking up and we’re taking steps, and we’re taking the steps to start conversation so that we can take more actionable steps and create a safer, brighter future for all of us.”

“What we need to do is we need to unite together … If we all get together, then we’re not the minority, we’re the majority,” said Wally Green, a well-known black ping pong player from New York and a father. His wife is an Asian.

“We can fight together for the cause that we believe in. It shows that we all have love for one another, whether it be Asian, black, Korean, Japanese. It doesn’t matter,” Green told Xinhua.

It’s good to see the participation of other ethnical groups and all the victims of racism and discrimination, said Li. The driver also called the media to well put hate crimes under the spotlight.

Calling the recent attacks at the Asian American community horrifying, the Asian American Federation (AAF) demands the lawmakers and government to address the issue on state and national levels with actions to support vulnerable communities.

“We will not let bigotry prevail against Asian Americans or any American. We know that violence and bigotry against one is violence and bigotry against all. We stand firm. We speak to the better angels of America,” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a vigil organized by AAF on Friday evening.

Schumer called on people to speak out against racism with everyone having an obligation to act.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned Wednesday the Atlanta shootings as “domestic terrorism” and said, “We have to stop Asian hate.”

According to de Blasio, there has been a major deployment of counterterrorism forces under the New York Police Department (NYPD) in some of the most prominent Asian communities in the city, and NYPD officers are trained to give warnings to people who have racist conduct but not rising to a criminal level.

Andrew Yang, who is running for New York city mayor, called for full funding for the NYPD Asian Hate Crime Task Force, which was unveiled last August in response to a rise in hate crimes targeting Asians and Asian Americans.

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