NEW YORK - A crowd of local officials and activists rallied at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan on Saturday to denounce an uptick in attacks on people of Asian descent in the city and across the country.
The "Rise Up Against Asian Hate" rally took place not far from where an Asian man was critically injured Thursday night in what the NYPD is calling an unprovoked stabbing by another man who has been charged with attempted murder.
"It's really been terrifying for our community," said Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, a New York-based advocacy group. "What is happening is not right."
Some of the attendees at the rally had personally experienced the rise in violence against Asians.
Brooklyn resident Noel Quintana, 61, was attacked while riding the L train earlier this month.
"When I put my hands on my face, there was a lot of blood so I panicked," said Quintana. "I knew I was slashed and I called for help and nobody helped me."
"There’s been a lot of fears stoked about calling us ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung flu’ and because we don’t speak out we have been targeted. We are constant victims of micro-aggression, people are always asking us ‘where are you from? Where are you really from, why is your English so good?’ There is always this assumption that we are not from here. We are Americans of Asian descent and we have the right to feel safe in our homes," Yoo said.
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Federal, state and local politicians at the rally, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, state Attorney General Letitia James and Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, also condemned violence against men and women of Asian descent.
"We will not accept hatred in New York City," de Blasio said. "Stop Asian hate. This is the message we have to get out, not just in New York City but all over this country."
"We need to fully fund the hate crimes task force for the Asian community instead of having it be a volunteer unit which we know is not going to be enough," Yang said.
The victim in Thursday’s Chinatown attack remains hospitalized in critical condition, and may not survive.
The Asian American Federation says it is focused now on reaching out to victims to help them heal. The organization is also writing up a proposal to send to the city to better address mental health issues that New Yorkers face.
With the Associated Press.