JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Asian Americans have faced a dangerous climate since the start of the pandemic and hate crimes toward people who look a certain way have followed.
The Jacksonville Chinese Association says now is the time to stand up, speak out and take action right now to help people who are vulnerable and held a Rally Against Asian Hate on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Park in Riverside.
Dozens filled the park holding signs that read Stop Asian Hate and Asian Lives Matter.
The event was cut short by severe weather, but a few speakers were able to get their point across before the storms rolled in.
Speakers expressed how many in this community don’t speak up about the crimes against them, and why it must change.
“And then when COVID-19 breaks out, we Asian people become ‘others.’ Now is the time for us to meet with this crime -- rally, loud and commanding -- and we need to tell everyone we should be judged by our individual character. We should not be judged by our race. We contribute equally to society,” said Dr. Lynn Ann, a member of the Jacksonville Chinese Association.
It’s unclear if the event will be rescheduled after it was cut short.
Before the event, News4Jax spoke with Wen Raiti, president of National Asian American PAC Florida, who hoped the community would come out for Saturday’s rally.
“With everything going on with our community, members feel the pain and feel discrimination, we’re still trying to do the right thing,” Raiti said. “We are all suffering in this pandemic. We need to show our sympathy, our empathy and our love to each other.”
Raiti is a healer as she helps those who come to her café with health, digestive and blood pressure issues through fresh organic foods. She opened in 2017 after visiting Shanghai and finding a tea farmer to partner with.
While the pandemic has heightened attacks on Asian people, Wei Zhou, vice president of the JCA said there’s been a long-standing history of discrimination.
“If you don’t stand up, the people will be attacked and killed,” Zhou said. “We are taking actions. We’re no longer suffering in silence, especially after the Atlanta shooting.
“In the past, we were attacked or assaulted. But this time we’re risking our lives,” he said.
After the rally, JCA says it will be holding a memorial service for the eight victims who died in the Atlanta shooting. Six were Asian women.
“Our country has witnessed a huge spike in violence against Asians since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out,” said Dr. Lian An, chairwoman of JCA. “The tragic Atlanta shooting has marked a culmination of resentment towards Asian people. This is a time that our dignity is assaulted and safety threatened and we cannot keep suffering in silence and further delay our condemnation of racism in all its forms. We will demonstrate at this rally the solidarity of Jacksonville residents with all victims of racism and hate crimes.”
The JCA rally was supported by 14 other local organizations.