Activists hold Chinatown meeting to combat Asian hate as protests ensue nationwide: 'We are scared'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois politicians held a meeting to discuss Asian hate Sunday in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood as rallies against Asian hate happened across the country.

Local groups in Chicago said they want to honor the legacies of victims of anti-Asian hate crimes through positive actions.

"My heart goes out to the too many victims of anti-Asian hate," said Paul Leong, a Naperville City Council member. "I was born in Chicago and I know that anti-Asian hate is real."

Nationwide rallies happened in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Philadelphia. A moment of silence was observed simultaneously across the country at the various events.

People shared their own stories about Asian hate at Sunday's meeting.

"From being physically attacked as a child to all the micro aggressions I've encountered throughout my life, I am no stranger to this ignorance," said Jeremy Wang a Dupage County Regional Board of School trustee.

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The Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, the OCA Greater Chicago and the Chinese American Service League put an event together locally.

"Whether it is through verbal assaults of go back to your country or physical violence and murder," said Sang Yup Lee of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago.

Thomas Choi of the Chinese American Service League echoed those concerns.

"We are scared for our parents and our grandparents, as they are afraid to leave their house," Choi said.

The multi-city Asian Justice Rally aimed to empower and inspire while also bringing together community leaders to mourn Asian American and Pacific Islander victims and fight against hate directed at Asian Americans throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is despicable what we have seen over the last two years and the systemic racism that continues to affect such a large and significant community in our city of Chicago," said Alderman Bryon Lopez of the 25th ward.

Speakers at the Chicago meeting cited statistics and raised concern about the future.

"Between February 2020 and October 2021, there were over 10,000 self-reported incidents against Asians of Asian dissent across the country," said Mabel Menard, OCA Greater Chicago president. "Who knows how many there were that weren't reported?"

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U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Attorney General Kwame Raoul and state Rep. Theresa Mah all spoke Sunday about the importance of raising awareness of and putting an end to Asian hate.

"For Asian Americans, these two years have been a stark reminder that racism and violence against us remains an unresolved issue in our country. And it is not a new issue," Mah said. "The idea that Asians are foreign don't belong and cannot be incorporated as full Americans has existed since the founding of this country."

Community leaders have been pushing for continued representation in at city, state and national levels to ensure advocacy continues for Asian Americans.
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