LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of demonstrators marched down the streets of Koreatown for a Stop Asian Hate rally Saturday morning, one of many that took place across the U.S. as part of a national day of action in the wake of the Atlanta shootings and recent surge of anti-Asian hate incidents and crimes.
Elected officials, community leaders along with activists took to the stage to condemn the violence and share personal stories of discrimination.
In 2020, Anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased by 145%, according to a recent California State University, San Bernardino study. However, experts say hate crimes are not only underreported but also misreported by law enforcement and those that are reported properly can be hard to prosecute.
The continuing anti-Asian violence is exactly why Rae Jin, executive director of the Anderson Munger Family YMCA in Koreatown, attended Saturday’s rally after organizing her own the week before.
“I’ve never protested. I’ve never even done a peaceful demonstration,” she said. “I have not done anything like this before.”
But Jin said she went ahead and made plans to stand at a busy intersection in Koreatown, holding up signs, even though she was scared for her own personal safety.
“I kissed my kid longer, hugged my husband longer. The morning of, I did the same because I don’t know what was it inside me, but I just didn’t know what was going to happen if I were to go there alone,” she said.
Luckily, some colleagues showed up to support her, and as she prepared for the Stop Asian Hate rally, Jin explained how she’s doing it for her son, elderly parents, community, and fellow Asian American co-workers who confide that they're worried about their own parents going out in public.
“I took that as it’s happening here in the community, like with our own API staff who live here,” Jin said. “I could not imagine what other conversations are happening with the Asian Americans in Koreatown.”
Rally supporters included Kenny Wilson, who recently moved to L.A. from Minneapolis, where he protested in response to the killing of George Floyd. Wilson explained how rallies like this are a step in the right direction to highlight injustices against any group.
“Continuing to get the word out, to acknowledge when these situations happen in the street again, and so we can take more action before anyone else loses their lives along the line," Wilson said.
In addition to showing support at rallies, Jin also remains vigilant at the YMCA, which serves a lot of Asian American members.
“I’m always going around talking to people,” she said. “I’m seeing how they are and welcoming members as they come in to see who my members are, so that if I catch anything or see anything, I can address it right away.”