Protesters gathered in Los Angeles and New York City on Saturday to denounce the escalating number of violent incidents against Asian Americans in the country.
Organized by Stand For Asians Solidarity, an informal ad hoc committee, the Los Angeles rally was held at the State Historic Park adjacent to Chinatown.
The protest was reportedly conceived in response to the death of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai immigrant who was shoved to his death in San Francisco last month.
“I’m fed up with the elders and the most vulnerable in our society being attacked merely for the way that they look,” entrepreneur Young-Jin Yang told the crowd, according to FOX 11.
Actor Daniel Wu attended the rally and linked the attacks to anti-Asian racism associated with COVID-19.
“Racist rhetoric from the pandemic has targeted us for being the reason for coronavirus,” Wu told the crowd.
Those who attended the rally reportedly represented their own parents and grandparents who were too afraid to report attacks against themselves or their friends.
Protesters in New York City gathered on the same day in Washington Square Park for the same purpose. Rohan Zhou-Lee, one of the organizers of the protests in the city and founder of the Blasian March, told NextShark that the number of people in attendance is estimated to be around 250.
Local police are investigating four attacks in the past week, including a 27-year-old who was punched in the face and told to “go back to China.”
Just days before the rally, an Asian woman was also shoved to the ground.
“I’m here to promote conscious of speaking up, talking and fighting for what you believe,” one protester said, according to CBS New York.
Only three anti-Asian hate crimes were recorded in the city in 2019. Last year, those figures rose to 29, 24 of which may be motivated by COVID-19.
“We understand when we’re being singled out for one reason and one reason only, and that is the color of our skin, or some would say, the angle of our eyes,” said New York State Sen. John Liu. “That is bigotry at its worst, and we cannot stand for, here in New York or anywhere else in this country.”
The suspects in some of these attacks were Black men, reportedly leading some to accuse the African American community of harboring anti-Asian sentiment. While this narrative has not been supported by evidence, rifts between the groups are coming to the surface.
“People want to have a Black villain and scapegoat,” Carroll Fife, an African American activist and Oakland city councilmember, told The Guardian. “People are right and justified to feel beset upon because Asian folks are othered in America. But you can’t fight racism with racism.”