A crowd of about 200 people turned out at the Town Common on Saturday afternoon for a rally and march to bring awareness to racially charged sentiments of hate against Asian-Americans.
The event, organized by the Hopkinton Chinese American Association, with help from the Hopkinton Freedom Team, lasted about an hour. The participants held signs and marched around the Common chanting, “Stop Asian hate,” “Hate is a virus,” and, “We are Americans, too.”
Some of the attendees said they also were planning to head to a similar rally in Southborough.
The event was held in response to this week’s fatal shootings of six Asian-American spa employees in the Atlanta area. That act of violence was the breaking point for many Asian-Americans, who have been plagued by fear due to a rise in hate incidents since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, this bigotry has been an ongoing struggle for Asian-Americans, said Jingjin Huang, a member of the Hopkinton Chinese American Association and organizer of the march.
“Recently it seems like the anti-Asian attacks have reached their peaks, with the Atlanta attacks and the blatant sexualization of the deaths of these older women are making me realize that we simply cannot move on from this,” Huang said. “My generation of Asian-Americans have kept silent and worked hard in the hopes that racism against our community will eventually fade, but this is not enough.”
Kevin Gu, a junior at Hopkinton High School, was a speaker at the event.
“I actually felt really scared when offering to give a speech at the march,” Gu said. “But I said to myself, you know what, I have to be brave and speak up. The issues that have been transpiring throughout our society recently should not be covered up, and this is finally our community’s time to call out these injustices.”
Superintendent of schools Carol Cavanaugh recently came out with a blog post showing support for the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
“[Many people] will wonder why the superintendent of schools has written such a blog,” Cavanaugh wrote. “I will tell you why I’ve written it. Because by talking about it, I am opening and encouraging dialogue in our community. I’m encouraging all of us to stand with our neighbors and friends of Asian descent. I am no longer a bystander, but rather an upstander. I only regret that it has taken a life-taking tragedy for me and for others to speak out.”
According to a study of police department statistics across major American cities, from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 150 percent during the pandemic, with 122 reported in 2020.
Many incidents have made headlines in the early months of 2021. In New York, an Asian-American woman was hit across the head with an umbrella while her assailants yelled racially charged slurs. In Texas, a man stabbed a Burmese-American man and his two young children. The attacker told police he believed they were Chinese and infecting people with the coronavirus.
In a survey done in July 2020 by the Pew Research Center, 3 in 10 Asian Americans reported hearing racial slurs since the beginning of the pandemic.