July 24, 2021

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‘Stand up and speak out’: About 200 rally in Portland against anti-Asian racism – OregonLive

3 min read

About 200 people gathered Saturday evening along Portland’s waterfront holding up candles and signs during a vigil honoring the victims of a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas earlier this week.

“We are here just to show our unity and to tell the world that we are part of America, we are not a target to be discriminated against,” said Liying Zheng, vice president of the Vancouver Chinese Association.

People carried signs with messages including “Stop Asian Hate” and “Hate is a virus” as well as the names of those who were killed Tuesday. Of the eight dead, six were Asian American women.

The authorities have identified those who died in the attacks as Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Paul Andre Michels, 54.

The event along Tom McCall Waterfront Park was organized by various Asian American organizations in Oregon as part of a nationwide night of vigils planned by United Chinese Americans, a national advocacy group for Chinese Americans. Volunteers from the Chinese Friendship Association of Portland handed out candles to attendees.

Ai Fen, 46, said she’s not the type of person who usually attends these kinds of events, but she wanted to show up and be counted among those who are publicly decrying violence against Asian Americans.

“We need to learn how to stand up and speak out,” Fen said in Chinese. “We need to show that Asian people can’t be treated badly like this.”

Hyun-joo Oh, who is Korean American, said she came to “help us be more visible.”

“I think it’s time for change for us to stand up and show up more for one another because sometimes we’re scared, so we hide away,” Oh said.

A slate of Oregon leaders spoke at the event, including Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, state Rep. Khanh Pham, an Asian American legislator who represents Portland’s Jade District, Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann and Christine Ryan Chin, president of the National Organization for Women Oregon.

Rosenblum urged those in attendance to use and spread awareness of the state’s bias crime hotline.

Asian Americans have been facing increased racism since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Community leaders in Oregon have been on high alert for the past several months, as hate crimes and violence against those communities have increased nationally.

Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks and reports bias crimes against Asian Americans, tallied nearly 3,800 incidents from March 19, 2020, to the end of last month nationwide.

Bias crimes against Asian American women comprised 68% of the reports. Thirty-five percent of them happened in businesses.

The report noted 40 racist incidents in Oregon.

In January, vandals struck a stretch of Southeast 82nd Avenue that’s home to several Asian-owned businesses. Jade District business owners reported more than a dozen such incidents.

“We call on the members of our community — watch out for each other, support for each other,” said Hardy Li, a founding member of United Chinese Americans.

— Jaimie Ding

jding@oregonian.com; 503-221-4395; @j_dingdingding

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