ATLANTA – After a week of pain, fear and grief, the Georgian capital held a march and rally in the city center on Saturday to protest the killing of eight people, six of whom were women of Asian origin, by a gunman targeting three massage companies was directed in the Atlanta area.
Hundreds of activists chanted “Stop Asian Hatred” as they left Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, which led to the State Capitol, where they rallied with hundreds after a rampage that killed eight people .
The roaming demonstration began after a series of speeches and was followed on downtown sidewalks, along movie sets and along the transit station.
Activists who picketed and used megaphones shouted messages like, “Asians are not a virus.”
The protest was billed as a #StopAsianHate event, which would allow people to “come together to grieve, heal and support”.
By noon, the crowd from Woodruff Park gathered to the hundreds of people who had gathered in Liberty Plaza under the shadow of Georgia’s Gold Dome.
State Representative Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American citizen to be elected to the Georgian legislature, lamented on Saturday that the victims of the shootings “had no one in their community to watch their backs, and we are deeply angry, sad and sad Sad . “Legislators must make changes to ensure that such a tragedy never repeats itself.
Senator Raphael Warnock said, “We need sensible weapons reform.” He added that stricter laws against hate crimes are needed.
Senator Jon Ossoff echoed those views, adding, “Let’s build a state and nation where you can register to vote on the day of an election, but you can’t buy a gun the day you want to kill . “
At Liberty Plaza, many people said this was their first protest. Before Tuesday, 54-year-old Elisa Park from Marietta kept her head bowed when she heard or experienced an anti-Asian mood.
“I was silent for a while, you know, sweep it away, keep your head down, work hard,” she said. “But not this time.”
Ms. Park said she came to the rally to put pressure on lawmakers to stop violence against Asians. Ms. Park added that she wasn’t the only one living in heightened fear since the shootings. Your employees and single friends of Asian origin would be afraid of simply leading their dog alone.
This is Ms. Park’s first protest. Your aunt was afraid for her safety, said Ms. Park. She didn’t know what to expect, but she was moved by the sea of people who came out to support.
“It’s not just Asians here, there are African-Americans, Whites, Latinos,” she said. “It’s really empowering.”
Saturday was also the first protest for 11-year-old Hemming Li and his mother Wen Zhou, 40, from Forsyth County.
Increasing attacks against Americans from Asia
- Eight people, including six women of Asian origin, were killed in the gunfight at the Atlanta massage parlor. The suspect’s motives are being investigated, but Asian communities in the United States are on high alert as attacks against Asian-American citizens have increased over the past year.
- In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, a stream of hatred and violence against Americans from Asia began in the United States last spring. Community leaders say the bigotry was fueled by the rhetoric of former President Trump, who called the coronavirus the “China virus”.
- A wave of xenophobia and violence in New York has been compounded by the economic fallout from the pandemic that dealt a severe blow to the Asian-American communities in New York. Many community leaders say racist abuse is overlooked by the authorities.
- In January, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was violently beaten to the ground in San Francisco, leading to his death in a hospital two days later. The videotaped attack has turned into a rally.
The two of them, as well as Hemming’s father, family friend and 6-year-old sister, took a one-hour drive to the rally to express their anger over the violence on Tuesday and the treatment by the police.
Hemming and his sister held up signs that they had made together days earlier that read: “Stop Asian Hate” in blue.
Ms. Zhou said she never thought she would protest with her family, but the murders of Asian immigrant mothers happened too close to home.
“The event that happened recently makes us feel insecure,” she said.
The protest comes a day after President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Asian American community leaders in a city still affected by Tuesday’s attacks. “We were reminded again that there are many crises – many enemies,” Ms. Harris said in a speech after the meeting on Friday.
She added, “Racism is real in America and has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and it always has been. Sexism too. “
Mr. Biden stated that the investigation into the attack was ongoing and that he and Ms. Harris were “regularly updated” by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Christopher A. Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Whatever the motivation, we know this: Too many Asian Americans have walked up and down the streets in the past year and worried. They woke up every morning feeling that their safety and security their loved ones are at stake, “Biden said in his own remarks.
At the rally on Saturday, 60-year-old Jane Zhong of East Cobb, a first-time protester, wore a white tea flower as part of a Chinese tradition to commemorate the deceased.
For Ms. Zhong, the death of a spa shooting victim, Xiaojie Tan, was too close to home. Both are Chinese immigrants and mothers with one daughter who graduated from college last year.
“I knew I had to show up,” she said.
Ms. Zhong, who heard about the rally through WeChat, a Chinese courier company, said, “I’m here to express my anger.”