By Ross Killion, AsAmNews Contributor
Over one hundred people gathered in Seth Low Playground in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn on Saturday, August 1 as part of an Asian Unity Rally. The rally was organized by Chinese American rapper China Mac in response to a July 17 attack on an 89-year-old Chinese American woman where two men approached her, slapped her and set her on fire. The elderly woman survived with no serious injuries however the police declined to declare it a hate crime and no suspects have been apprehended as of this writing.
The rally started at 3pm with China Mac, MC Jin and other individuals take turns giving speeches and rallying up the crowd. Just after 4pm, participants marched down Bay Parkway chanting several slogans including “When grandmas get attacked. We stand up. We fight back”, “When Asian people get attacked. We stand up. We fight back.”, “When Black people get attacked. We stand up. We fight back.”, “Power to the people.”,”Ai-yo, ai-yo, racism has got to got.”, “All for one and one for all. They can’t burn us all.” and “No more silence. We must fight”. The crowd stretched about two blocks during the march.
After taking a right on Bath Avenue, the march convened at the 62nd precinct of the New York City Police Department. About a dozen or so officers stood outside the precinct. China Mac took the mic and asked the crowd, “Does anybody have kerosene in their pocket?”. To which the crowd responded with and an emphatic “No”. “It looked like a hate crime to me.”, said China Mac, addressing the police officers, “I think the officers knew it was a hate crime. Then why are they not deeming it a hate crime? Is it because they are used to us being quiet? Is it because they didn’t want to get anybody from other nationalities upset?”
Hate crimes against Asians have increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020. According to CBS News, over 2,120 hate crimes against Asian Americans were reported as of July 2. There is a perception among many in the Asian American community, that hate crimes against Asians are not taken as seriously as hate crimes against other groups. In May, a trio of teens kicking an elderly Asian woman in the face in St. Paul, Minnesota. The attack was filmed and uploaded by one of the teens, however Ramsey Count prosecutors declined to declare it a hate crime. Another incident took place in February when an elderly Asian man collecting cans was attacked and humiliated by several people on a San Francisco street. Like the incident in St Paul, this attack was also filmed and uploaded but local prosecutors did not charge any of the suspects with a hate crime.
In addition to China Mac, a number of other individuals took the microphone and addressed the crowd and the police officers. This included a young individual who self-identified as Black, Asian, queer and femme who mentioned how hate crimes and lynchings of Asian Americans has a long history which is largely unknown to the general public. Another individual performed a bow towards the police in a solemn request for law enforcement to take hate crimes against Asians more seriously in the future. A young man who goes by the name JJ and a self-identified Gen Z-er expressed the importance of unity and solidarity with Black, indigenous, Arab and Hispanic communities in the fight against racism.
The entire event was peaceful and no altercations with the police occurred. The rally concluded around 5pm and the crowd quickly dispersed as traffic resumed. A number of people stayed back to mingle and discuss future plans for organizing and activism.
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