As the threat of xenophobic-fueled violence continues to threaten the Asian-American community, local leaders gathered in Chinatown to show solidarity for the lives lost to a very different kind of pandemic.
Panic has been ignited within Asian communities across the country following a gunman’s shooting spree in Atlanta that left six people of Asian descent dead amidst a total kill count of eight on Tuesday. Over the last several months alone, New York has seen its own epidemic of unprovoked slashings, stabbings, and other brutal attacks perpetrated on Asian individuals who were merely going about their daily lives. Despite community members and elected officials condemning these acts of violence, these ruthless actions have continued to plague the city.
Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer joined with Executive Director of the Chinatown BID/Partnership Wellington Chen and Chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Justin Yu on 14 Mott Street on March 17 to visit the community and discuss the issue. Despite the aforementioned shooting taking place in Atlanta, Yu says this horrific act has left Asians everywhere shaken and disturbed.
“After the tragedy that happened yesterday in Georgia, the Asian-American community in this city feels, psychologically, so vulnerable but this morning we see support,” Yu said, adding, “It’s lunchtime here but nobody showed up. It’s the impact from what happened in Georgia.”
This support is in reference to the NYPD dispatching additional units to patrol areas like Chinatown in order to prevent a horrific act such as Tuesday’s shooting occurring in New York. Yu also thanked Stringer for rallying behind the cause and championing those who face unwarranted racist attacks. Stringer declared that elected officials must stand with the community and visit areas suffering or in need.
“What I am doing right now is also showing people that we are going to be in the streets of Chinatown and all the communities because that is how you rally people. People will come out when leaders and elected officials come out and that’s how we bring our city back. But also, the great tradition of New York—and that’s something that I certainly feel as a mayoral candidate and also as an elected official—when a community is under attack we fight back,” Stringer said.
Immediately following the conference, the trio took a brief tour of the area speaking with locals regarding their feelings on recent events. They greeted pedestrians and supermarket workers as they passed through the otherwise vacant streets. The one message that seemed to be on the lips of all three men during the afternoon was that of solidarity.
“We got to stop, we are brothers and sisters for God’s sake. When I gave blood for ten years, I have no idea which body it went into, could be Jewish, Black, or white. We are in this together,” said Wellington Chen.
Many community leaders and elected officials have been hosting rallies condemning xenophobia, imploring those who have been the victim of a racial attack to come forward and report the crime, and also urged others to support Asian businesses as they continue to suffer from the ripple effects of the pandemic.