CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Demonstrators chanting “Stop Asian Hate” marched through the streets of Charlotte Saturday, as rallies across the city aimed to bring awareness to the rise of attacks and hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“If you don’t speak up, if you don’t tell people there are issues, you are going to be one of the victims,” Faye Liu, the organizer of one of three rallies held in Charlotte Saturday, said. “We gotta work together as a united country. We are the United States.”
Hundreds marched from Marshall Park to Midtown Saturday morning and early afternoon, chanting and carrying signs.
“Stop Asian hate crimes,” Warren Zhong said, reading the words on his colorful poster. “We are all amazing.”
Hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have increased 150%, according to an analysis of statistics from police departments across the country.
From attacks, to beatings, to the shootings in Atlanta earlier this month that left eight people dead including six Asian women, members of the Charlotte community said they are now living in fear.
“I exercise early in the morning, and now I carry pepper spray around,” Jennifer Yu exclaimed. “That (has) never happened for the 35 years I live in Charlotte. And that is sad.”
Demonstrator Arnold Ong agreed.
“We see a lot of our family members being harassed, being victimized some of us even being injured because of what’s been going on in the country,” Ong said. “There’s this level of intolerance and divisiveness within the country and so many of us are feeling victimized. We’re feeling like we’re not safe in our own country.”
Dozens of similar rallies took place this weekend in cities across the country from New York to Los Angeles.
Demonstrators said it was inspiring to see so many people from so many backgrounds come together.
“I think this is a critical moment,” said Zhengzheng Wiley, whose business was spray-painted with an ethnic slur last year. “It’s attacking our community as a whole so we all need to step up and say something and do something.”