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Rochester community rallies against anti-Asian hate

provided by Frank Keophetlasy
The New Americans Advisory Council with the city of Rochester organized the Stop Asian/AAPI Hate Gathering on Saturday,

A rally in support of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Rochester was held on Saturday.

The gathering is in response to a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans across the country, including a mass shooting in Georgia last month that targeted Asian businesses.

Monroe County Legislator Frank Keophetlasy, one of the event organizers and a member of the city’s advisory council for new Americans, said it’s important to show unity against targeted violence.

“There’s people who care about each other, whether it be elected officials or community members," he said. "And just to show that hate is unacceptable in any situation.”

Mimi Lee, president of the Asian/Pacific-Islander/American Association of Greater Rochester, said she’s heartened to see that the community is making a statement against ongoing anti-Asian hate. The group did not organize the event, but supports it, she said.

The rally comes days after an Asian woman in her 60s was brutally beaten in New York City. At least three people stood by without intervening.

Credit Jeff Palma
Mimi Lee is the president of the Asian/Pacific Islander/American Association of Greater Rochester.

“I am most angry about the bystanders watching, (who) did nothing, even closed the door,” she said. “It’s just heartbreaking,”

Lee hopes that more people will learn bystander intervention training, which is offered free online, so that they can help stop harassment and violence before someone is victimized.

This kind of violence is part of U.S. history: There were Japanese internment camps in World War II, and exploited Chinese railroad workers in the 1800s who faced dangerous conditions and little recognition. 

In 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese man living in Detroit, was beaten to death by two white men. It was just before Chin’s wedding. The two men were given probation and served no jail time for the slaying.

“That injustice caused Asians across the nation to rise up, galvanized us, to say, 'Hey, we are just as American as everyone else and we have a right to be here,' ” Lee said.

Nearly 40 years later, with the rise of anti-Asian violence, Lee wants to see communities unite against hate.

“No one should have to be in fear of their life because of the color of their skin,” she said.

The event took place 10am to 11:30am on Saturday at the Maplewood YMCA parking lot, 25 Driving Park Ave.

Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.