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Fresh rallies held in US cities against anti-Asian violence

Social activists gather for a demonstration denouncing anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander sentiment and hate at City Hall in Los Angeles, March 27, 2021. (Getty Images)

American demonstrators held rallies on Saturday in different cities across the United States to demand an end to anti-Asian violence.

Demonstrations were held in some 60 US cities including the Georgia metropolis along with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Portland.

The rallies came after eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, were killed in three separate shootings at massage parlors in and around Atlanta, Georgia on March 16.

The gun rampage triggered alarm and grief nationwide along with fear over a spike in pandemic-era hate crimes. 

"We're one year into this pandemic and anti-Asian violence has only intensified," said Judi Chang, a representative of the anti-war, anti-racism ANSWER coalition behind the demonstrations on Saturday.

Crowds gather near the Space Needle to protest ant-Asian hate in Seattle, March 27, 2021. (Photo via ABC News)

Chang, like many other organizers, attributed the surge in anti-Asian sentiment to political rhetoric that casts China as a threat.

"Everyone I know who is Asian has been a victim of violence or harassment, assault," she told AFP in New York. "We get spat at, we get yelled at. We get stared at, people move away when we come."

Protesters in Atlanta were holding signs some of which read; "Stop Demonizing China and Chinese People!" while others were emblazoned with messages like "Say No to Anti-Asian Racist Terror!"

"We're out here to say that we're not going to tolerate racism towards Asian American communities," Satya Vatti, an organizer with the Answer (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, told Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB in Atlanta.

About 100 people rallied in Washington's Chinatown district, with one demonstrator holding a placard reading, "I'm not a virus, I'm not the enemy, I'm Chinese-American and I love who I am."

A demonstrator wearing a mask saying "I am not a virus" listens to a speech at a rally against Asian hate crimes, Saturday, March 27, 2021, at Chicago's Grant Park. (AP photo)

Irving Lee, a demonstrator in Queens, described the anti-Asian violence created in America a "byproduct of US foreign policy."

When the coronavirus began spreading in the United States in early 2020, then US president Donald Trump and a number of other politicians dubbed it the "Wuhan" or "Chinese" virus.

That, according to Lee, has had devastating effects on Asian communities.

"I've seen a lot of people that have been affected," he told AFP. "They're scared to go out as a consequence of the violence that's been going on."

In the past year, the organization Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate launched in response to the growing anti-Asian sentiment during the pandemic, recorded roughly 3,800 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents across the country.

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