New Yorkers who rallied Uptown say enough is enough—no more Asian hate.
Despite mounting activism and the NYPD’S implementation of a task force and civilian panel to combat anti-Asian violence, the AAPI community are still being targeted in unprovoked hate crimes, the latest of which occurred on 125th Street and Third Avenue, leaving a 61-year-old man hospitalized after repeated punts to the head. These continued and seemingly random attacks have enraged the city.
Organized by activists and the Rainbow Coalition, a group consisting of all races and creeds congregated at Mitchel Square Park on 168th Street Sunday afternoon to stand in solidarity with Asian Americans. The event began with the creation of a shrine at the roots of a tree where incense was spread, and prayers were said. And then, as more people poured into the park clinging to protest signs, speakers addressed the ongoing fight to prevent turmoil between cultures.
Johanna Fernández is an assistant professor of history at Baruch College and is a part of a movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, an activist and journalist who helped create the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party and was convicted of murdering officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. On Saturday, protesters celebrated his 67th birthday at City Hall and continued to declare his innocence in the incident and demanding that he be freed from prison.
“We are here in the heart of the Dominican community; we are marching to East Harlem and we are here to say an injury to one is an injury to all. Not too long ago we had a person in the White House who was blaming China and the Chinese for the coronavirus and spewing anti-Asian hate, spewing white supremacy, and jingoism in this country and that is what we have to blame,” Fernández said to a roaring, jam-packed crowd.
Those preparing to march were also excited to hear from Mumia Abu-Jamal, who spoke to the large gathering via a cell phone from a hospital bed in a Pennsylvania correctional facility, where he is recovering from heart surgery and COVID-19.
“This country has a long and distinguished history of anti-Asian violence and one of the most oppressed communities. We came over here and were exploited by their labor, not just as people who labored on the land, but people who labored in mines and they were treated as non-humans,” Abu-Jamal said.
After the speech, like a stampede about 200 demonstrators filed out of the park and into the street, chanting “Stop Asian hate!” Waving signs, banging drums, and holding fists to the sky marchers walked in solidarity with one another as they made their way to East Harlem. Among the marchers, were nurses who exhibited signs reading, “Racism is a public health crisis,” Asians wearing “Black Lives Matter” masks and Black and Brown individuals brandishing, “I stand with Asian lives!” posters.
This was a message intended to spread unity, which appeared to be successful as passing motorists stopped to give protesters a fist bump or horn honk. Local store owners also emerged from their place of business to record the commotion.
The march culminated in the People’s Church in East Harlem, near the site where the last attack was committed.