Hundreds of people march in the Korean neighborhood of Los Angeles as part of the ‘Stop Asian Hate’ demonstrations across the country

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Koreatown Saturday for a unity rally and marched down Olympic Boulevard to demand an end to the rise in racism and violence against Asians, including killings in the Atlanta area earlier this month, which have stoked fear and outrage in the community.

Drums and chants filled the air as protesters marched and held up signs reading “#Stop Asian Hate” and “Enough is enough.”

At the rally, community leaders, local politicians and activists shared emotional stories about how they were intimidated, scapegoated, discriminated against, and treated as if they were outsiders or anything less than Americans. Many spoke out against the alarming increase in hate crimes against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the pandemic and demanded government action to stop racist attacks.

Friends Christina Huynh, 39, and Carolyn Dao, 32, drove to the rally together from Orange County after learning of the event on social media from celebrities Kelly Hu and Olivia Munn.

“I’m sick of all the hate, all the blame-the-new-group mentality,” said Dao, a Cal State Long Beach psychology student from Garden Grove. “It is disgusting to see people chasing our most vulnerable.”

Dao said his breaking point was the murder of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in the Atlanta area this month. Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker told reporters that the man arrested in connection with the killings was having a “really bad day” and had blamed “sex addiction,” not racism, for the slaughter.

Dao felt helpless and enraged by the comments that seemed to sympathize with the suspect more than the victims.

“It was dismissed as a ‘bad day’, that’s what it did to me,” Dao said.

Protesters hold up posters and wear T-shirts with anti-hate slogans.

Hundreds of people participate in a “Stop Asian Hate” rally in Koreatown on Saturday.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Baker was later removed as a spokesperson for the case after it emerged that a Facebook page that appeared to belong to him was promoting sales of an anti-Asian T-shirt that blamed China for the coronavirus crisis.

“I’ve experienced racism all my life, but I’ve kept it to myself,” said Dao, whose parents came to the United States as refugees from Vietnam. “They taught me to keep my head down, not to make waves.”

Another rally was held in downtown Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Several hundred protesters gathered on La Cienega and Santa Mónica boulevards, chanting and cheering through the busy intersection as lines of cars drove honking their horns in support.

Ann Le of Los Angeles held a sign with the face and name of Vincent Chin, the Chinese American whose assassination in Detroit in 1982 remains a flash point in anti-Asian racism in America. His murderers, two white men, did not serve time in jail and were fined $ 3,000.

Artist Ann Le holds up a poster featuring a collage she created of Vincent Chin in West Hollywood on Saturday.

Artist Ann Le holds up a poster featuring a collage she created of Vincent Chin in West Hollywood on Saturday.

(Jen Yamato / Los Angeles Times)

“During the shootings in Atlanta, he was very upset,” Le, 39, said. “I didn’t know how to channel my anger, and I was really depressed about it.” A collage artist whose work is largely inspired by the Vietnamese American experience, Le created a sign from her original piece that foregrounds the image of Chin in front of the faces of his killers.

He participated in the march because “we need everyone,” he said. “I think of the myth of the model minority, where we are a little quiet and we are afraid and we may not show up. I felt like I needed to show up. “

The events were part of a national day of action promoted by the ANSWER Coalition, with similar demonstrations taking place in other California cities and across the US, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Honolulu, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, Queens. in New York City and Seattle.

Since the coronavirus shutdowns began last March, thousands of Asian Americans have faced racist verbal and physical attacks or been rebuffed by others, according to a recent report by Stop AAPI Hate. Hate crimes against Asians have exploded in Los Angeles and other major cities. Official statistics capture only a fraction of incidents, because many go unreported.

Experts say the hatred has been stoked by misguided guilt over the pandemic and the incendiary rhetoric of former President Trump.

A protester holds a sign that reads: "Hate is a virus."

Protesters at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally in Koreatown on Saturday.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Dao said the attacks have sparked intergenerational divisions within families on how to respond, “and my family is not exempt from that.” But she hopes that just seeing people like her on the streets raising their voices will inspire others to speak up.

Huynh, who is also a Vietnamese American, said he attended the Koreatown rally to voice the “often unspoken fear, anger and sadness, especially for our older generation.”

He said his grandmother and father had been assaulted in the past, “but they didn’t report it to the police because they don’t want to be an inconvenience. They always tell us, ‘Don’t make trouble.’

“Well, I can’t be silent anymore,” Huynh said. “I felt like I needed to speak for those who can’t or won’t.”

The march ended at Olympic Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, where elected officials, community leaders and other speakers took the microphone.

They recounted that Asian Americans were attacked in their homes and businesses, yelled at and spat at. They emphasized that the recent wave of attacks is only the latest in a history of anti-Asian discrimination dating back more than a century in this country.

“Hate crimes in Asia existed long before COVID-19, but it was actually exacerbated by the former occupant of the White House, when he used language like ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu,’ and we’ve been seeing an increase. alarming, ”said Steve Kang, vice president of the Los Angeles Korean American Federation and one of the main organizers of the rally.

“We are seeing how they attack our elders. They are being pushed, kicked. Brutal killings are taking place, ”Kang said. “So we feel that we can no longer be silent and we have to get up. And I think Atlanta was the last straw for many of us. “

Kang estimated that more than 1,000 people attended the rally. Many participants said they are simply fed up.

“My mother, when she brought me here, she said, ‘This is the land of the free and you can live the American dream,’” said Kathy Wu of Los Angeles. “But now, our mothers, our fathers, are being attacked. And I am afraid for my community. “

Bruce Lie, vice president of an Indonesian diaspora group, said he marched to support the entire Asian American community in the Pacific Islands, especially Korean Americans who were among the victims of the Atlanta killings.

Lie has lived in the Alhambra for two decades and said he has never seen so much hatred directed towards his predominantly Chinese neighbors as in the last year.

“I’m here to say enough is enough,” Lie said.

Community groups are planning additional rallies and vigils. At the same time, they are pushing for tangible legislative changes to support victims.

That includes proposed legislation to establish a unified statewide hotline for Asian Americans to report hate incidents in the languages ​​they speak, Kang said.

“The Asian American community has long been seen as an invisible group within the United States and we really wanted to show, in large numbers, that we are no longer invisible,” Kang said. “We have to raise our voices and say: ‘Stop Asian hatred.’

Source link