NEW YORK (Dispatches) – Hundreds of people gathered in Mitchel Park at 168th Street and Broadway, rallying to march against anti-Asian violence.
"It’s frightening,” said Keilin Huang, who took part in the march. "Honestly, I’m scared as an Asian-American woman to go out now.”
She said she believes that it’s good people know about the rise in anti-Asian incidents, "because I think before, everyone was just like, no it’s not happening, everyone is making this up.”
She’s not an organizer, but is grateful for the outpouring of support from the non-Asian community. "I think having this support and doing these rallies has helped a lot,” she said.
They brought their message through several neighborhoods in Northern Manhattan, down Amsterdam Avenue, east on 125th Street and south on Lexington Avenue.
"If one person is attacked, an Asian person, then we’re all under attack in the spirit of human rights and solidarity,” said former Black Panther Jamal Joseph. The Author and Columbia University Professor spoke to the crowd at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. statue at the intersection of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 125th Street.
The themes dug into larger societal issues and history.
Demonstrators attribute the rise in violence against Asians to Donald Trump calling COVID-19 the "China flu.”
Organizer Johanna Fernandez says the dehumanization of Asians began decades earlier.
"There’s a long history in this country of any Asian violence that’s not at the hands of individuals,” said Fernandez.
It includes the exploitation of Chinese labor to build the railroad and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
"U.S. imperialism and U.S. capitalism the world over is the purveyor of anti-Asian violence on a mass structural level. For example, the United States dropped more bombs on Vietnam during the Vietnam war than were dropped by all sides combined during World War II,” said Fernandez, who is also an associate professor of History at CUNY’s Baruch College.
She denounced U.S. polices and the government, but not the country itself.
At least one of the marchers appeared to have different ideas, dragging the flag through the dirt.
Other demonstrators who didn’t sully the flag or draft the statement of purpose for the march say it’s the discussion that’s important.
"Hate is individualized. Racism is systemic and so we need to be talking about interlocking systems of oppression, of militarism, of imperialism, of capitalism and all the things that oppress our communities,” said demonstrator Jennifer Kim. She told NY1 as she marched, "If we are to really make change and for this to be a transformational moment those are the things that we need to be talking about.”
A 61-year-old Asian American man was attacked by a man who kicked him repeatedly in the head in East Harlem, police said.
The man was collecting cans when he was attacked from behind, knocked to the ground and kicked in the head shortly after 8 pm on Friday. He was taken to Harlem Hospital in a critical but stable condition, the New York Police Department said.
Surveillance video released by the police appears to show the attacker stomping on the victim’s head. The police department’s hate crimes task force is investigating the attack, the latest in a troubling rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York and around the country.
Police did not release the victim’s name, but multiple news outlets identified him as Yao Pan Ma, a former restaurant worker who lost his job because of the pandemic and was collecting cans to make ends meet.
The victim’s wife, Baozhen Chen, 57, pleaded for police to find her husband’s attacker in an interview with the New York Post.
"Please capture him as soon as possible and make him pay,” Chen said in Mandarin through a translator.
The attack recalled last month’s assault near Times Square in which a woman who immigrated from the Philippines was knocked to the ground and stomped on by an attacker who shouted anti-Asian slurs. A parolee convicted of killing his mother nearly two decades ago was arrested in that attack.
The U.S. Senate passed legislation last week aimed at fighting the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The measure would expedite the review of hate crimes at the Justice Department and provide support for local law enforcement in response to thousands of reported violent incidents in the past year.