(ATLANTA) — Two years after the death of eight people at three Atlanta-based Asian-owned or operated spas, Asian Americans are uniting in cities across the nation to demand action against racist hate, violence and to pay tribute to the lives lost.
Co-organized by Stand with Asian Americans in partnership with various other Asian American equity organizations, the rallies don’t plan to only mourn the losses of the 2021 Atlanta shootings, but will mourn the lives lost in other killings, such as the Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park shootings that happened earlier this year.
“This violence is only kind of the latest manifestation of violence against our community,” said Charles Jung, the executive director of APAs vs. Hate and a civil rights attorney. “This event is important to remember because this is about fighting the prejudice in our community while we also heal and build for the future.”
Jung is the coordinator for the March 16 commemoration across the five cities.
On March 16, the “Always With Us: Asian Americans Rise Against Hate” synchronized events will occur in Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, New York and San Francisco.
There will be special appearances at the events ranging from 2022 TIME Woman of the Year Amanda Nguyen to Brandon Tsay, the man who stopped the gunman in Monterey Park. Other appearances will include Asian American leaders, activists, community members and elected officials.
Robert Peterson, son of Atlanta Spa shooting victim Yong Ae Yue, told ABC News that Thursday’s rallies serve as a way for the public to not only support Asian Americans, but hear the stories of those whose lives have been lost due to hate crimes.
“I know the feeling of hearing these events and saying that it’s sad. But it’s important for me to put a face to those stories,” Peterson said emotionally. “This is my mother. This is not just a regular event. This is not another mass shooting, but this was my mother.”
While the events all strive to promote unity across the nation, each city plans to emphasize issues that are going on locally, such as San Francisco’s focus on low-wage workers and New York City’s emphasis on Asian women.
“The idea of it being national, but at the same time, reflective of the constituents and the population and the community and the issues that they’re facing vocally was important to highlight for each one of the cities,” said Wendy Nguyen, co-founder of Stand with Asian Americans.
This will be the second year that the organizations have created synchronized rallies nationwide that are open to the public in person and through livestream, regardless of race.
“I want and hope that we as a community can galvanize the next generation of Asian American activism… so that we can build this cross coalition, so that we can elevate all communities, not just the Asian community.”
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.