Over 1500 protesters marched through San Francisco on Saturday in one of the largest local protests, calling for an end to the national increase in anti-Asian violence.
“Stand up! Speak up! Stop Asian hate!” protesters chanted loudly as they marched from Civic Center to Union Square.
“We need active people 1000% with us, to make the world happy and peaceful,” the Wah Ying club organizer, Jeff Lee, told supporters that crowded the western half of Union Square.. “Asians feel they are not being treated equally.”
The huge rally was part of a nationwide day of action at the increase of violence and hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Islander minorities. According to media accounts, at least 39 people of Asian origin have been kidnapped, beaten, or killed in the Bay Area this year.
Mayor London Breed’s call for San Francisco to “stop the violence and stop the attacks” drew applause.
“Let’s have peace and unity in San Francisco,” the mayor said from the stage on the north side of the square, gazing out at the increasing audience.
Breed also announced expanded police and anti-violence neighborhood patrols in predominantly Asian communities. On Thursday, she participated in a video-recorded public service announcement alongside Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, condemning violence and intolerance against Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
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Yan Huang of San Francisco came to the protest with his two children, 11-year-old Emma, and 9-year-old Aiden. He blamed former President Donald Trump for triggering much of the crisis by labeling the COVID virus as Asian.
“And his followers are still here and haven’t changed,” he said.
According to a recent UC San Francisco report that monitored the former president’s effect on social media discourse, the number of coronavirus-related tweets with anti-Asian hashtags skyrocketed after Trump used the word “Chinese virus” in a tweet on March 16, 2020.
According to UCSF, the report, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health on March 18, “lends support to public health experts’ warnings that naming a disease after a place or a group of people is stigmatizing.”
“These results may be a proxy of growth in anti-Asian sentiment that was not as prevalent as before,” according to Yulin Hswen, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF, “Using racial terms associated with a disease can cause the perpetuation of further stigmatization of racial groups.”
While Trump has been widely chastised for growing aggression toward Asian cultures, the origins of this prejudice go back more than a century.
“These racist and misogynist acts of violence are sadly not out of context following a history of ongoing xenophobic and racist verbal attacks against people of color and women and little national action to prevent them,” Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director said in a statement.
Former city Supervisor Sandra Lee Less spoke at the protest, recalling a white woman assaulting her mother on a Muni bus when she was a child, according to the Bay Area News Group.
“These incidents are not new,” she said, the newspaper reported. “These incidents have always happened.”
More rallies are expected in the Bay Area these days. More others will take place in Redwood City, San Jose, and Santa Cruz, as well as towns around the country like Los Angeles, Denver, and New York.
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