“When Asian lives are under attack, what do we do?” asked the chant leader. “Stand up and fight back!” responded the crowd.
On Thursday evening, several hundred people, primarily Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), along with supporters from the African American community and a scattering of Whites, gathered in South Minneapolis to express solidarity and condemn the mass shooting of six Asian women in Atlanta.
The six Asian women were among the eight killed last week when a lone White gunman shot up two massage parlors in the area on Tuesday.
Speakers told stories of being verbally and physically attacked simply because they were AAPI. Others explained the history of anti-Asian attitudes, pointing out how the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Japanese internment, and U.S. wars in North Korea and Southeast Asia, have all have contributed to prejudice against Asians over the years.
A few speakers urged fellow Asians to reject the characterization of Asians as the “model minority.” One speaker described it as a form of anti-Blackness.
While authorities have hesitated to call the Atlanta mass shooting a hate crime, speakers reiterated that from their viewpoint it was an obvious hate crime. Speakers also criticized the Atlanta area sheriff who rationalized the shooter saying the perpetrator had been having “a bad day.”
Yet another demanded that Asians hold their head up and insist they are not some “other” but on equal footing with the rest of the human family and insist that they too are somebody. ”An injury to one is an injury to all,” he urged. He called for solidarity among Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color saying, “If they hate us all, then maybe we should all stick together.”
The protest, which included a march in the Linden Park area near the Lake of the Isles, was organized by local activist Anthea Yur, and was held in solidarity with other AAPI folks all over the U.S. that held rallies condemning the mass shooting and anti-Asian violence.
The organization Stop AAPI Hate, reported recently that Asian Americans have been victimized by verbal and/or physical attacks nearly 500 times since the beginning of the year. The organization reported receiving 3,795 complaints received over the past year.
The rise in anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. can be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic that began in Wuhan China. Former President Donald Trump disparaged Asians by calling it the “Kung Flu” and the “China virus.” Following suit, some Americans have verbally and physically assaulted Asian Americans under the false and misguided assumption that they are somehow responsible for the deadly virus.