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‘Time for us to stand up and speak out’: Richmondites rally against anti-Asian racism in Atlanta

Stop Asian Hate rally will take place at the Vancouver Art Gallery this weekend.

In the wake of the deadly mass shootings in Atlanta and increased violence against Asians in the past year, a number of Richmondites are joining thousands of others across B.C. to attend a “Stop Asian Hate” rally in Vancouver on March 28.

Jessica Yan and James Wu have been busy making protest signs for the upcoming demonstration, which will take place at the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza on Sunday at 2 p.m. 

The rally is in reaction to a deadly shooting in Atlanta, Ga., where a White gunman shot and killed eight people, including six Asian-American women at three massage parlours.

Yan, who immigrated to Richmond in 2005, told the Richmond News she was devastated after hearing eight innocent souls were murdered in Georgia. 

“For those who might feel scared during these uncertain times, let’s empower each other and strengthen resilience through joining rallies like this,” said Yan.

In the meantime, a memorial for the Atlanta shooting victims will be held at Brighouse Park on Saturday at 6 p.m., organized by Maple Leafs Anti-Racism Actions Association (MLARA). Attendees are asked to wear black or white and bring flowers and candles. 

The Atlanta shootings cap a year that has seen a spike in cases of violence against the Asian community since the first COVID-19 case was identified in Wuhan, China.

Thousands of protestors gathered in Atlanta last weekend in support of the Asian-American community. 

Chinese immigrants were taught in school to not draw attention and to tolerate hardships, explained Yan. It’s a belief she also clung to while growing up. However, Yan said it’s now time to break the silence.

“Although the tragedy didn’t happen in my hometown of Richmond, I still think it’s time for us to stand up and speak out. Otherwise, we will become transparent, and our voices won’t be heard,” said Yan. 

Wu agrees that “to be heard and to be seen is a significant step towards combatting racism.”

Three years ago, Wu was walking on a trail in Burnaby when he was confronted by a sign that read, “No Asians on trail.” Wu immediately wrote emails to Burnaby city councillors and the sign was removed.

“We hope more people know that we are here and we want to live in a place without any forms of racism. Diversity should be our greatest strength,” said Wu.