SAN FRANCISCO, April 26 (Xinhua) -- "Grateful to all who joined us at Colton Hall to stand in solidarity with our AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islander) community," U.S. Congressman Jimmy Panetta tweeted on Sunday night.
Along with hundreds of demonstrators, Panetta participated in a rally held in the City of Monterey, California, on Saturday to protest against anti-Asian hate crimes.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to the assault that Asian-Americans are enduring," Panetta spoke at the rally which gathered leaders from various local Asian-American communities.
"Hate against Asians is not new. Because of discrimination and the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, my grandfather's village was burnt several times...Chinese still prospered in this area. I urge that we...tell our own stories and reach out to help others to tell their stories," said Gerry Low-Sabado, a fifth-generation descendant of a Chinese fishing village.
Former national president of Japanese American Citizens League Larry Oda, a third-generation Monterey resident, was incarcerated in an internment camp during World War II. He said that the Asian American community has long been part of Monterey County's history and contributed hugely to the local economy.
"Though you work hard, you are blamed for what is not your fault. Establishing allies are important," he said.
"My values, passions, and pursuits are rooted in the multicultural communities I grew up in and are influenced by the immigrant family I was raised by," said Kaye Roberts, a second-generation Filipina-American. "I am driven by my personal experiences to continue breaking barriers to race and gender equality."
According to Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based nonprofit social organization, it received nearly 3,800 reports of attacks or abuses against people of Asian descent between March 2020 and February 2021, and the actual number of such incidents is believed to be far greater than that.
Jeff Uchida, chapter president of the local Japanese American Citizens League, noted that a member of his organization was recently targeted in Monterey. "It is upsetting to see what's going on throughout America," Uchida said.
With reports of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on the rise, officials in Monterey unanimously passed a resolution on April 6, condemning anti-Asian hate crimes and renewing the city's "commitment" to speak out against racial violence and protect those targeted in the attacks.
"I feel supportive. Asians are not invisible in the U.S.," said Lailan Huen, program director at the Asian Pacific Islander Student Achievement Initiative of the City of Oakland, who came to Monterey for the rally.
"Besides the rally, we also need relevant policies, laws, funding, and education reform in schools," she added, noting that history about Asian-Americans is largely unmentioned in textbooks.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act overwhelmingly with an aim to combat surging hate crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I will continue to fight for legislation that roots out hate and supports survivors, like the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which I will support on the House floor in the coming weeks," Jimmy Panetta said in his Sunday night tweet.