Following weeks of violent attacks against elderly Asian residents in the Bay Area, San Francisco and state officials Monday morning led a rally at Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square in support of the Asian American Pacific Islander communities .
Several rallies were also held over the weekend rallies throughout the Bay Area and nation to denounce the racism and violent attacks against AAPI communities. Just one week ago, a shooter in Atlanta killed eight people — six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said recent attacks and racist incidents against Asians are alarming, but far from new, adding:
“Anti-Asian hate has been rooted deep in our country. This is not something that just happened this past week in Atlanta. This is not just something that has been happening for the better part of a year. This is something, a phenomenon, that stretches back to the founding of this state.”
As the Asian community struggles to deal with the pandemic, alongside all other communities, they have the added element of racism that has created further strain on Chinatown businesses, Chiu said.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) stressed that recent attacks against AAPI seniors and the Atlanta shooting did not occur in a vacuum, saying:
“Over the last year, we have seen extreme racist rhetoric against our Asian community, including from the former president of the United States.”
Many have blamed former President Donald Trump’s Covid-19 rhetoric for the harassment and racist remarks against the AAPI communities. Trump used terms such as the “China virus” or “Kung flu” throughout last year.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has represented Chinatown for nearly two decades, said:
“These last weeks have been some of the darkest, most challenging and scary, of that 20 years.”
Peskin noted a small bright spot in public response after last week’s Market Street assaults on 75-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie and 83-year-old Ngoc Pham. GoFundMe drives for both Zie and Pham have collectively raised more than $1.1 million.
In a recent report issued by the Stop AAPI Hate project, more than 3,800 people nationwide have reported discrimination and hate incidents against Asians since the pandemic began last year. Approximately 68 percent of incidents involved verbal harassment, 20 percent involved avoidance/shunning and about 11 percent involved a physical assault.
Founded by the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University, the Stop AAPI Hate project allows the public to report incidents on its website.
Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) was able to secure $1.4 million for Stop AAPI Hate to continue research and maintain incident reporting tools.
Ting stressed the importance for communities of all different races to come together to “stamp out hate.”