Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday for a unity rally to condemn what has become a troubling surge in anti-Asian racism and violence.
In Koreatown, a “Stop Asian Hate” solidarity march was led by a youth troupe of drummers who headed westbound on Olympic Boulevard from Berendo Street.
Playing traditional Korean drums that symbolize a storm of thunder and lightning, the marchers carried signs with such phrases as “Stop Killing Asians,” “Keep My Grandma Safe!” “Enough is Enough” and “Hate is a Virus.” The march concluded at Normandie Avenue, where a solidarity rally was held.
At the rally, activists, community leaders and local politicians shared personal stories about being bullied, scapegoated and discriminated against. Many spoke out against the rise in hate crimes against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the pandemic and demanded action to stop the racist attacks.
“I think now is the right time for us, the Asian American community, to fight back and stop the hatred,” said Ian Moon of Hwarang Youth Federation, a volunteer organization based in Koreatown dedicated to empowering volunteers to serve their community.
Community organizers said people were marching and rallying not only in solidarity for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, but also with their allies in the Black and Latinx communities as well.
In West Hollywood, the local Stop Asian Hate chapter showed up in full force along with LGBTQ+ community members and allies as they marched along La Cienega Boulevard
“It does affect everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re Asian, Black or Hispanic,” said Conrad Pratt, who attended the ‘Stop Asian Hate’ West Hollywood rally Saturday. “We may be different in ethnicity or nationality, but what we’re all fighting against is racism.”
Other rallies were also held in Los Angeles City Hall, San Bernardino, in other parts of Southern California and in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A candlelight vigil to call for the end of anti-AAPI hate will also be held from 6-7:15 p.m. Saturday at Chinatown Central Plaza, where Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, is set to speak.
Also scheduled for Saturday evening is a community vigil and what organizers describe as a” healing space to grieve and denounce violence against Asian Americans, misogyny, classism, racism and white supremacy” starting 5 p.m. at Barnes Park in Monterey Park. The event is organized SGV Progressive Action, which bills itself as a “grassroots collective in the San Gabriel Valley acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.”
The events were part of a national day of action promoted by the ANSWER Coalition, with similar rallies taking place across the U.S., including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Honolulu, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., Queens in New York City and Seattle.
There has been a marked rise in anti-Asian violence across the United States, an issue that once again rattled a community on edge after the recent mass shooting deaths of eight people at spas in the Atlanta area, six of whom were Asian women.
Police have said it is too early to know the shooter’s motive, but the attacks come at a time of increased reports of anti-Asian racism and communities sounding the alarm about a wave of violent incidents.
Since coronavirus shutdowns began last March, thousands of Asian Americans have reported experiencing racist verbal and physical attacks, according to a recent report by Stop AAPI Hate.
But the true scope of the problem, is difficult to quantify because of poor data collection and low rates of reporting. Experts and law enforcement officials say that hate crime and bias incident data released by police departments and federal agencies is just a fraction of actual incidents, as many who experience such crimes are often reluctant to report to officials.
While community organizations and activists have taken to it upon themselves to collect data on their own and address deficiencies in hate-crime reporting, definitions of hate crime may differ, leaving policymakers with competing datasets that don’t capture the scope of the problem.