Part of Chinatown was transformed into an outdoor, star-studded street assembly on Thursday morning in the latest effort to combat anti-Asian hate and support the AAPI community.
Leaders of 1199SEIU hosted a rally that closed off Bayard and Mott Streets to traffic and erected a large stage between storefronts. Pumping loud music, hundreds of members of the public and union workers filled into the street waving signs and wearing stickers that encapsulated the event’s theme: Stop Asian Hate.
Actor Danny Glover stood on the erected stage alongside Civil Rights leaders from the National Action Network Reverend Al Sharpton and Rev. Franklyn Richardson, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East George Gresham, and more in renewing a plea to end what seems like an endless spate of hate crimes plaguing the Big Apple.
Sweating attendees in the late spring heat fanned themselves with signs while standing in support of the victims of anti-Asian hate and listen to the renowned panel of speakers.
Sharpton denounced white supremacy and former President Donald Trump for perpetuating AAPI hatred by referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus.” However, he also criticized Black and Brown individuals who have engaged in violence against Asians, calling those few a misrepresentation of the black community.
“There are some of us in the Black community that have become part of this hate, and we are not going to allow you to represent or misrepresent us. Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Hispanics, all of us need to stand together,” Sharpton said. “You can’t fight for George Floyd and ignore the hate that is being done in the Asian community. You can’t fight all of the victims unless you fight for every victim. That’s why we are in Chinatown this morning.”
“We say to those cowards that are acting like Trump sent you: don’t you assault anyone based on hate without justifying the hate that has been perpetrated against us. You are a sell out and a disgrace to our community,” the reverend added.
In addition to asking New Yorkers to stand up and support the AAPI community in the face of physical violence, speakers also asked the horde of visitors to show their financial support to an economically crippled Chinatown by enjoying a meal in the area.
Those on stage told the large gathering that it is not simply enough to merely say stop Asian hate, they must come back to the community and show residents they are not alone.
Glover attempted to personify this by traveling from his home in San Francisco and sharing his grief over the countless Asian American and Pacific Island citizens who have been the target of hate.
“We are here also in the struggle for justice. We can’t just be accountable, we have to be there and present. I’m happy that I’m right here in the Chinese community in New York City, present in the time that we need to be present, making their story, connecting their story to our collective stories of struggle. We’ll stand here, well fight here, we got your back,” Glover said.