14 THE QUEENS COURIER • MARCH 11, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Sunnyside community rallies against anti-Asian hate crimes
BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
About 100 protesters gathered in Bliss
Plaza in Sunnyside, on Saturday, March
6, to rally against the increase of violence
and hate crimes toward Asian American
Pacifi c Islanders.
Th e rally was organized by City Council
candidates Julie Won and Steven Ragga,
who are running for the City Council
District 26 seat. Both candidates attended
the Rise against Hate rally in downtown
Manhattan last weekend. Th ey agree
that the rise in hate crimes on Asian-
Americans impacts all communities in
New York City.
“It’s not just downtown where the racism
and xenophobia are cared about
in the community. It’s not just downtown
where racism and xenophobiaare
fought against in the community. So
we want to bring it here, starting in
Sunnyside,” Ragga said.
Hate crimes against Asian
Americans have always existed,
but since the beginning of the
COVID-19 pandemic, the number
of incidents has sharply increased
in New York City and across the
United States. Th ere have been 28
coronavirus-related attacks against
Asians in New York City since the
beginning of the pandemic.
Th e latest attack occurred
on Mar. 2, when an Asian
man was knocked to the
ground and punched in
an unprovoked attack
on the Lower East Side.
Jesse Laymon, who
is also looking to
that while he and
the other candidates
are in a race
against each other,
they wanted to stand
united against hate.
He called on white
people to join the fi ght against racism and
stand up against bigotry, even if they feel
it doesn’t concern them.
“Bigotry is itself an epidemic disease
that is constantly mutating with new variants,
and what is targeting one community
today will target another community
tomorrow and targeted others years
before that. Th is is all one disease, and we
must fi ght it together, or we will not succeed
against any of
it,” Laymon said.
of the Migrant
Center at St. Francis
of Assisi Church
shared that Noel
man who was
the face with a
box cutter on
the subway in
February, is not
only a volunteer
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer speaks at the antihate
at the Migrant Center but also his friend.
He said many Asian American and Pacifi c
Islander community members are afraid
to take public transportation to work.
Still, he urged them not to allow fear to
rule their daily lives.
“If we allow fear to dominate our lives,
then the perpetrators have won. We are
here to stand up against Asian hate,”
He also pointed out that the older generation
might feel that they are voiceless
because of language barriers. He reminded
the AAPI community that they could
not be intimidated as long as they stand
together as one voice.
“Together, we have a voice, and we want
to visit the ears of our perpetrators, law
enforcers and elected offi cials to hear us
out. Because we are here to stand a stand
against Asian hate. Th e Asian American
and Pacifi c Islander community should
not tolerate being diminished or treated
like we are invisible,” he stressed.
Sharon Lee, who served as acting
Queens borough president aft er Melinda
Katz was elected as Queens district attorney,
opened by joking that she was not a
candidate for City Council nor any other
offi ce. She reminded the crowd that hate
crimes towards the Asian American community
are nothing new and that most
incidents go unreported.
“Th is is not just in the last couple of
weeks. Th is is not just a year ago when I
rally in Sunnyside.
would walk around and wonder, I don’t
know what’s going to kill me fi rst,
COVID or racism? Th is is not new;
it is underreported,” Lee said before
calling on the community to speak
up and report hate crimes.
She also made it clear that anti-
Asian racism was not an excuse
for anti-Black racism in the AAPI
“We have a lot of work to do. So
don’t get it twisted that we’re just the
victims; there is a lot to do. And it’s on
us as well,” Lee emphasized.
Van Bramer said that, as a gay man,
he’s seen and experienced violence. He
told the crowd that violence is used as an
attempt to silence, intimidate and isolate
but underlined that showing unity and
solidarity is the best counter-argument.
“We will protect each other, and we will
never ever allow anyone in our community
to feel isolated, to be afraid, and to
be alone. And we will never ever accept
the notion that the hatred directed at the
Asian community will allow anyone to
feel powerless because there is nothing,
nothing worse than being made to feel
powerless. And that is not going to happen,”
Van Bramer said.
Won said that she is concerned about
her mother’s safety and calls her every
morning to remind her to be careful
when she takes the train or walks by herself
“Why is it that in my very own city, I
have to ask my mom if she is safe? And if
she does not text me back in 15 minutes, I
start to have anxiety worrying if my mom
is safe,” she said.
Won made it clear that she’s not calling
for more policing, and she doesn’t want to
be part of a conversation that could lead
to more racial profi ling and incarceration
of people of color. She wants to get to the
root of why hatred and bigotry exist and
believes that compassion and understanding
are more eff ective.
“Th at’s why we are calling the way that
we did today, for more community building,
for mutual trust, for us to really stand
in solidarity because it is not about one
race attacking the other — but recognizing
as a society as a whole about anti-
Asian sentiment and scape-goating,” Won
Photos by Gabriele Holtermann
Sunnyside residents hold a rally against anti-Asian hate crimes on March
Sharon Lee speaks at the anti-hate rally in
City Council candidates Steven Ragga and Julie Won speak during the rally.