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Stop Asian Hate: Protesters across US condemn racial hate, bigotry, violence

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Hundreds rallied in downtown Atlanta on March 20 to speak out against hate crimes against Asian Americans. (Photo by USA Today)

Protesters across the United States have taken to the streets to condemn the surge in hate attacks against Asian Americans in the wake of this week’s shooting rampage in Atlanta.

From San Francisco to Pittsburgh and points in between, people participated in rallies and spoke out against hate crimes directed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which have particularly surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, a shooter targeted three spa parlors in Atlanta, Georgia’s largest city, killing eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.

A 21-year-old suspect was arrested in connection with the carnage. Robert Aaron Long faces eight counts of murder and one charge of aggravated assault.

The carnage has left the Asian-American community in the Atlanta area and elsewhere in the United States in fear of their lives.

“I've dealt with words and looks and stuff my whole life,” Ann Johns, a protester, told NBC News at a rally in Atlanta. “My family doesn't want me to go anywhere by myself.”

Hundreds of people gathered in a park and marched through the streets to join a larger rally, chanting “Stop Asian hate” and “We are what America looks like.”

“I’m sick of being belittled and hypersexualized and hated for who I am, for something I can’t change,” Frankie Laguna, 23, told the crowd as the group marched, according to the Associated Press.

Bernard Dong, a 24-year-old student from China at Georgia Tech, said he participated in the rally for the rights not just for Asians but for all minorities in the United States. “Many times, Asian people are too silent, but times [will] change.”

Police have said they are still working to establish a motive, including looking into the possibility that the attacks were racially motivated.

“No matter how you want to spin it, the facts remain the same. This was an attack on the Asian community,” said Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen, who is an advocate for women and communities of color.

Nguyen noted that the shooter targeted businesses operated by women of Asian descent. “Let’s join hands with our ally community and demand justice for not only these victims but for all victims of white supremacy,” she said.

Elsewhere in the US, people also took to the streets to speak out against racism and hate directed against minorities, especially Asian Americans.

In San Antonio, Texas, former Mayor Juliàn Castro told the protesters that America has an “imperfect” history that should be reexamined.

“We must stop hate against Asian Americans in this country,” said Castro, a former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “For generations, Asian Americans have been discriminated against. I don't have to tell that to anybody in this crowd.”

In Pittsburgh, actor Sandra Oh told a crowd that she is “proud to be Asian,” noting that this was the first time the community is able to voice their “fear and anger,” NBC affiliate WXPI reported.

In Chicago, a protester told NBC Chicago they participated in the rally not only to show support for the victims of the Atlanta massacre but to prevent such attacks in the future.

“I come here, I think of not only for me but also for my next generation,” demonstrator Dai Quing said. “I think they should have the same opportunity and be respected equal.”

Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans, has recorded nearly 3,800 cases of attacks against the community in the US since last year, including verbal and physical assaults, discrimination and civil rights abuses.

Women made up a far higher share of the cases, at 68 percent, compared to men, who made up 29 percent of respondents.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris paid a visit to Atlanta on Friday and met with leaders of the Asian-American community.

He said that the bigotry and violence have been “often met with silence” in America, telling the grief-stricken community that, “We cannot be complicit.”

“Hate can have no safe harbor in American,” Biden said. “It must stop.”

Harris, who is of South Asian descent, acknowledged that “racism is real in America and it has always been.”



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