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1,000 cranes vigil held in Rhode Island for Atlanta victims

Wikimedia Creative Commons. Photo by Michael Day

Asian American organizers held a “1,000 Cranes” vigil to mourn victims of anti-Asian violence on the lawn of the State House in Providence, Rhode Island, on Saturday night.

“In Japanese lore, the folder of one thousand Origami cranes was granted a wish by the gods,” co-organizer Katherine Peterson told Uprise RI. “We cannot wish racism away, but we can set a goal to end it.”

Peterson, who identifies as Korean American, said she and her roommate, Frannie Ngo, were motivated to plan the event in the wake of the Atlanta shootings on March 16 that claimed the lives of several Asian Americans. She emphasized that it was more of a vigil than a protest because they wanted to remember those who were attacked on that day and in other recent acts of anti-Asian violence.

The gathering, according to the Providence Journal, was attended by over 100 people. It featured speeches from politicians and Asian American residents and displayed thousands of origami-folded paper cranes sent in by supporters of the cause.

Ngo, during the rally, asserted that the Asian American community is done being silent, according to the Journal. In a reference to rhetoric blaming Asians for the COVID-19 pandemic, Ngo, who is Chinese, said that hate was the true virus.

Portsmouth Town Council Vice President Linda Ujifusa, who, according to the Journal, is likely the highest-ranking official of Asian descent in Rhode Island, spoke at the rally about her family’s past struggles with anti-Asian racism. Ujifusa recounted her mother’s family’s forced internment during World War II due to its Japanese heritage before imploring the vigil attendees to make change by running for office.

“You believe we can and must work against racism — even when led by a former president of the United States,” Ujifusa said according to the Journal.

Other speakers included Providence teacher Geena Pham, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. The vigil concluded with a moment of silence for those who died in the Atlanta shootings, according to the Journal.

Although Peterson acknowledged an outpouring of support from groups such as the LGBTQ and African American communities, she informed Uprise RI that she also faced resistance in organizing the vigil.

A White woman, according to Peterson, maligned her for “not being Asian enough” to represent the community and for whitewashing the deaths of the victims of the Atlanta shootings.

“I was hurt and invalidated, unseen and erased all in one exchange,” Peterson told Uprise RI.

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