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Students Rally Against Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Local political leaders join event to create awareness against rising incidents against Asians

Published on Sunday, June 27, 2021 | 5:14 am

More than 75 gathered on the steps of Pasadena City Hall Saturday morning for a rally against an increasing tide of anti-Asian hate crimes in the San Gabriel Valley.

The event was organized by Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Youth Voice for Change and local student Sophie Pang, and was attended by Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo, US Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-22), and State Senator Anthony Portantino, as well as members of the Pasadena Police Department, all of whom spoke at the rally.

“I was getting really concerned for my grandparents’ safety,” said organizer Sophie Pang, following the rally. “I had seen on the news about Asian -Americans being beaten and stabbed. I felt like I needed to do something.”

The rally follows on the heels of numerous rallies first held in March, across Southern California and the US, after a rising number of violent attacks against Asian Americans were reported, including a murderous shooting rampage at three Atlanta-area spas where eight people were killed, including six Asian women.

Congresswoman Chu told the crowd, which was mostly young students, “We have an important partner advocating on our behalf, and that is President Biden.” Chu said she was “gratified” that within the first week of his taking office, the president condemned anti-Asian hate and outlined steps that the US needed to take to fight the increasing number of incidents.

Mayor Victor Gordo talked about his own upbringing as a non-English speaker growing up in a garage apartment in Pasadena with his dishwasher father and his seamstress mother.

“I was called things like ‘beaner,’ and ‘wetback,’ and it was hurtful,” he said, “but there were young people who spoke up for me, like you’re doing right now.”

State Senator Portantino also emphasized that “We are all in this together, and this is a great country, but we have to remind it, and what the young people are doing today, is they are reminding us of the values we all learned about, but don’t often preach and walk.”

A number of students—Maggie Grether, Sammie Yen, Jeremy Hsieh, Sabrina Cheung, Stephanie Barcenas, Mina Fedor, Alena Tejavanija, and Alina Wong—also made brief speeches or read poems.

Cal State Fullerton Associate Professor of American Studies Susie Woo briefly outlined a short history of anti-Asian violence in American, describing a through line from the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the 1982 beating death of Detroit auto worker Vincent Chin, and the recent spate of anti-Asian violence across the US.

As Pang added, after the rally, “Report hate crimes, speak up, and do what you know is right.”

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