Did You Hear About The Anti-Asian Crimes Occurring?

Did you know there was a rally held in Chinatown against Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in Los Angeles last week? If you did not, I don’t blame you, you’re not the only one. I didn’t hear about it either until I saw something about it on social media a few days after it took place. I will provide some background on why it took place and quickly describe what happened so you know why it is important to be currently discussed. 

First, let me give you a definition of a hate crime stated by the F.B.I: “A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” 

Second, let me give you some background information on how this rally begun and progressed over the past year. Everyone knows that our first anniversary of quarantine from COVID-19 is approaching in a few weeks on March 11. The spread of the coronavirus began in China and progressed throughout the entire world, including in the United States. A lot of people blamed Asians, targetting Chinese, Korean, and Japanese individuals, for the coronavirus and have continuously given them disrespect and racial slurs. 

When COVID first spread, I believe Asians were the main targets for people to blame for the virus. This is very upsetting to share, but I have been targeted as well as a Korean-American living in the United States. At first, people would stare at me while I was grocery shopping at Costco with a mask on before masks were mandatory, people wouldn’t want to touch the change I gave them while working, and someone literally went up to my face and told me to “go back to my country” even though they didn’t know me or what my ethnicity was at my family business. 

I didn’t really speak out about the subject besides having some discussions with my close friends and family, but I wish I talked more about it. After I saw a social post about this recent rally in Chinatown, I wanted to discover more about what had happened. It turns out, this wasn’t the first rally to occur. 

The first rally occurred in Brooklyn, New York on August 1, 2020 and hundreds gathered as part of an Asian Unity Rally. The protest was named the #TheyCantBurnUsAll March and it was organized by China Mac, who is a Chinese American rapper. This rally was in response to an attack that happened on July 17. Two men approached, slapped, and set an 89-year-old Chinese American woman on fire. She survived with no serious injuries but the police declined to declare that it was a hate crime and no suspects were apprehended. 

black lives matter protest Photo by Colin Lloyd from Pexels

At the rally, Mac and other individuals gave speeches and many chants were announced. Some of the chanting slogans they said were “When grandmas get attacked. We stand up. We fight back”, “When Asian people get attacked. We stand up. We fight back”, “When Black people get attacked. We stand up. We fight back.” Many individuals spoke at the event to spread the message on how others should be aware of the events occurring around them and requested that Asian hate crimes to be taken more seriously. It was a peaceful event and there were no alterations with the police. 

Even after the rally in Brooklyn, I don’t know how much people were aware about the hate crimes targeting Asians. Since last March, hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased greatly and many assaults against some individuals have not been declared. In September, it was stated that there were over 2,500 hate crimes against Asian Americans since the rise of COVID-19 and I can’t imagine what the numbers are today. 

I’ve heard that there were other incidents with other Asians including eldery women being robbed, both men and women being punched in the middle of the street, and people getting their car windows smashed. There have been a lot of videos spreading of Asians getting hurt or disrespected and it's upsetting to say that I didn’t see that many individuals stepping up to help them. There have been more Anti-Asian violence occurring and one recent assult stirred another rally in California. 

The second rally that occurred this past week took place in Chinatown at Los Angeles State Historic Park. The rally was to raise awareness of rising violence against the Asian Pacific Islander community. The “Rally Against Anti-Asian Hate Crimes & Racism” was organized by Stand for Asians Solidarity. 

Taiwan Night Market Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

They describe themselves as “an informal ad hoc committee with the purpose of raising awareness of continuing anti-Asian violence and to support and address the needs of the AAPI community.” An entrepreneur, Young-Jin Yang, who was at the rally, said the catalyst in organizing the rally was last month’s fatal assult of an 84-year-old immigrant from Thailand, Vicha Ratanapakee, in San Francisco. 

At the rally he announced that “[Anti-Asian hate crimes] is wrong, and we need to say something. We are begging you to please acknowledge that these things are happening, and to please say something. Give us an opportunity so that our future generations will be seen as an equal human being.” 

Yang also said, “People have more power than you think you do. All it takes is to share a post and to speak up when you see something is wrong.” 

I do agree with Yang’s comment about how people can speak up if they saw something negatively occurring and I hope that other people would begin and continue helping others when they are in those situations. 

After hearing about the recent rally and activities, I hope others can understand why this topic is serious and how people should respect and support each other during certain situations. As a person who has also received that sort of disrespect in public, I can’t imagine how other Asians are feeling around my community. I hope people could learn how they could help others when incidents occur and see why it is important to step up for others. 

Black Lives Matter sign holders, protesters Photo by Johnny Silvercloud from Flickr

I believe the phrase, “treat others how you want to be treated” is very significant and important to follow because disrespecting others for their ethnicity is not right. A huge example of giving support to another community was the Black Lives Matter movement that took place last year around the nation. With the nation supporting the Black community, I hope Asians (and all other lives) should be respected and supported too. 

We shouldn’t be receiving all these racial comments, violence, and blame for the coronavirus just because of where we came from. A lot of people may think they know who we are or where we came from just by looking at our appearance, but without talking and understanding our background first, they may not realize who we really are and how their comments can be very offensive to us and our ethnicity.