“When I was attacked on the subway, there were so many New Yorkers around me, but no one came to my aid, no one made a video,” said the 61-year-old Filipino-American.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t make it … We are all New Yorkers and we should take care of each other.
Quintana, a New Yorker, described the February 3 attack on city leaders, Asian Americans and their supporters who attended the “Stand Up Against Asian Hate” rally in Foley Square on Saturday.
“Stop the Asian hatred!” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the crowd. “This is the message we need to spread, not just in New York City, but across the country: Stop Asian Hate! Stop Now!”
US Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, told the crowd there were signs of an increase in violence at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tragically, those warnings came true and the Asian American community, throughout New York and the country, has been the target of racial discrimination and harassment,” said Schumer.
New York Attorney General Letitia James encouraged people at the rally to report hate crimes to her office.
“Come to my office so we can report on these individuals who hate us, so we can shut them down. Any attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” James said.
New York City resident Pearl Sun attended the rally but did not speak to the crowd. She told CNN that she is now cautious when walking on city streets.
“I have to tell them I go out the door and get ready, get ready,” he said. “I make sure I don’t listen to more music when I’m walking. I don’t listen to podcasts anymore … I want to make sure I pay attention to what’s happening around me.
“I think the rhetoric from our previous administration was definitely the catalyst for all of this. Anti-Asian sentiment has always existed and we’ve had a lot of legislation in the past that hasn’t been good for us either: Japanese internment.” camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
“It has been an ongoing situation, but the rhetoric above has increased all their hatred, calling it the kung flu virus and the China virus, and sadly, we are apparently an easy target.”
Sun said the rhetoric had amplified hatred, especially in cases involving elderly Asian Americans.
“They’re helpless and it’s cowardly, and it makes me mad, it really makes me mad,” Sun said.
City resident Will Lex Ham said many members of his family live in fear and anxiety. He said that the Asian community does not receive resources in proportion to its population in the city, state and nation.
“We are tired. We are tired of being the scapegoat for many of the pandemic problems. We are tired of being ignored,” Ham said.
Reports of attacks on the rise
The rally was organized by the Asian American Federation, an umbrella organization that advocates for better policies and services for Asian Americans.
The federation says there were “nearly 500 incidents of prejudice or hate crimes in 2020, ranging from verbal to physical assaults, to coughing or spitting, shunning, among other forms of discrimination.”
Those figures were compiled by the AAF, advocacy group Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) Hate, the New York police and the New York City Commission on Human Rights, according to the AAF.
“However, these are a fraction of the actual number of incidents that have occurred, as the majority of incidents go unreported. For example, more than 90% of the reports collected by AAF were not reported to even the Police Department of New York or the New York City Commission on Human Rights, “the AAF said in a press release.