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Black & AAPI Communities Show Solidarity At Protests After Rising Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Demonstrations across the country brought together the Asian American community and allies after the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes & Atlanta shootings.

People gather at a rally to demand safety and protection of Asian communities in the aftermath of the March 16, 2021 deadly shootings in the Atlanta-area that left eight people dead, on March 21, 2021 in Washington, D.C. | Getty Images
People gather at a rally to demand safety and protection of Asian communities in the aftermath of the March 16, 2021 deadly shootings in the Atlanta-area that left eight people dead, on March 21, 2021 in Washington, D.C. | Getty Images

People in cities nationwide gathered over the weekend to protest the rise in anti-Asian attacks and hate crimes that have surged within the last year. The Black community and other allies joined in solidarity with Asian Americans in the wake of Atlanta-area spa killings that left eight people dead last week.

Crowds of people attended demonstrations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Chicago, and other major U.S. cities.

In New York City, activist and running group founder Coffey organized the “Black & Asian Solidarity” 5K run on Sunday in an effort to “re-establish the importance of our cross-cultural allegiance.” Coffey estimated on Instagram that “thousands” of people showed up wearing either black or white shirts to run or walk the 5K route. Coffey also asked that participants wear masks.

Another demonstration called “Rally Against Hate” drew more than one thousand people later Sunday in the Chinatown area of Manhattan. The event drew public figures including Andrew Yang, New York City mayoral candidate and former presidential candidate, his wife Evelyn, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, and activist Alice Tsui.

“This truly is the most incredible assemblage of beautiful Asian and Black and brown and white human beings I have seen in quite some time,” Yang said during a speech at the “Rally Against Hate” protest.

Last week, a 21-year-old white man attacked three spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight people. Six of the victims were of Asian descent, and seven were women. The suspect has not been charged with a hate crime, and police have not confirmed that the attacks were racially motivated — leading to intense scrutiny from many who believe it was a racist attack.

“It is madness to question a 21-year-old lunatic as to his motivations when we can see clear as day that this was a hate crime,” Yang continued. “Everyone who is Asian American knows that these women were targeted on the basis of their race, that if you go to an Asian-owned business in an Asian community and you open the door, you know exactly who you’re going to find. You know exactly who you’re going to murder, in this case.”

Yang also spoke about his experience as an Asian American man of getting “glares” and “animosity on the streets” during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino found a 149% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of the largest U.S. cities in 2020. The study also found that the first spike in crimes occured in March and April — when the COVID-19 virus was first rapidly spreading.

Yuh-Line Niou, who is the first Asian American woman to represent Manhattan’s Chinatown district, gave a powerful speech about systemic racism against Asian Americans. She also criticized New York City’s decision to add more police to predominantly Asian communities in response to the Atlanta shootings.

“It’s not gonna make it better to have more police,” Niou said. “We’re not asking for more police. Let’s look at our own NYPD, okay? Our own NYPD has only two Asian Americans in any… top office. I can name them, I know them.”

She continued: “When we are not at the table, we are not in the conversation.”

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