Hundreds of people gathered at a rally organized by the Asian American Federation (AAF) in New York City to denounce the rising number of anti-Asian attacks.
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“We need to make sure that we are not fighting racism with more racism,” (D-NY) Rep. Grace Meng said. “That we are fighting racism with solidarity. That we are not ever, ever pitting one group against the other. It is everyone against racism. We are American, too.”
Almost 500 people from the Asian community in New York were targeted with bias incidents and hate crimes last year, according to data gathered by the AAF, Stop AAPI Hate, the NYPD and the NYC Commission on Human Rights. These attacks range from verbal to physical, including an acid attack on a woman in Brooklyn in April 2020.
Noel Quintana, the 61-year-old Filipino American man who was attacked in a subway in New York last month, also attended the rally to describe what happened when an unidentified man slashed his face during an argument.
“I called for help, but nobody came to help. If they took a video of this, the perpetrator would be identified easily,” he said, urging people to record and report all incidents.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was also present at the rally, has called for an end to the anti-Asian attacks in the city and the country.
“Stop Asian hate!” CNN quoted de Blasio as saying. “This is the message we have to get out, not just in New York City, but all over this country: Stop Asian hate! Stop it now!”
He also promised the crowd that “anyone who commits an act of hate against the Asian-American community will be found, will be arrested, will be prosecuted.”
“Come to my office so that we can do something about it,” Attorney General Letitia James, who urged community members to report anti-Asian incidents to the authorities, said. “Come to my office, so that we can go after those individuals who hate us, and shut them down.”
The NYPD has also launched an unfunded task force made up of volunteers from the community and 25 of their detectives to cull the growing number of anti-Asian hate crimes.
New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer criticized former President Trump for fueling the anti-Asian sentiment by using the terms “Chinese Virus” and “kung flu” in early 2020. He also pointed out there were signs of the surge of violence, which the FBI predicted would occur, at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Tragically, those warnings came to fruition and the Asian American community, across New York and the country, have been the target of race-based discrimination and harassment,” Schumer said.
As a solution, James and others who spoke at the rally endorsed AAF Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo’s calls for more action.
“We need a patrol which is staffed by police officers,” they said. “A full-time, dedicated bureau … that patrol the streets, patrol the subways and keep the Asian community safe from harm.”