Several Queens lawmakers were joined by Asian American community leaders for a rally in Manhattan on Friday, Feb. 12, in support of a South Korean diplomat who was brutally assaulted outside the United Nations building. Last week.
The victim, a 53-year-old man, was punched in the face in an unprovoked attack on Wednesday, Feb. 9 while walking with a friend, lawmakers say. No words were exchanged before the attack and the victim, who suffered a broken nose, even showed his South Korean diplomatic ID before the suspect fled.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim along with Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator John Liu and Council Members Sandra Ung and Linda Lee, were joined by the Korean American Association of Greater New York, the Korean American Association of Queens and the Asian American Federation. at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at East 47th St., to condemn the continuing wave of attacks on the Asian American community that has emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kim spoke about the need for Asian New Yorkers to stick together to defend themselves and against violent attacks.
“Enough is enough. Stop attacking Asians,” Kim said. “Throughout this pandemic, Asian American activists and organizers have stood with black and brown communities fighting for justice. racial and economic. We believe in a shared common cause. But with each day, attack after attack, my community’s hope for a better future dims. We want to turn the other cheek, end the cycle of violence – is eye for an eye really the only option? How much more trauma, how much more injury can we endure?”
Representatives, most of whom are of Asian descent, expressed frustration at the lack of progress in ending violence against their communities.
“Asians here in New York, across our country and now around the world are on high alert. We are angry and we are ready to stand up, speak out and fight back,” Liu said.
The spate of anti-Asian attacks is becoming a daily occurrence, according to Lee.
“New York is the city of the world, and we cannot let attacks on our hosts become commonplace. I thank our allies for never hesitating to support us and for repeatedly standing in solidarity with us,” Lee said. “We need to turn the corner on this epidemic of violence so our community can start to heal and we can stop having these press conferences on a weekly basis.”
Over the past two years, the Asian American community has seen a 361% increase in anti-Asian hate attacks, according to the NYPD.
Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation (AAF), said their organization had sounded the alarm and begged the city to work with them to find solutions.
However, the response has been slow or met with silence, Yoo said.
“We need support and funding to create safe zones, to teach our community how to stay safe. We need funding to create a public education campaign to fight the scourge of violence that is growing like cancer in our city,” Yoo said. “What is happening in our community is NOT a historic event that will go away by ignoring it. We are calling on the City to step in to save our communities from this endless violence.
John Park, a community leader, said Koreans, Asians and all New York immigrants deserve to feel safe in their city, and the importance of “putting the well-being and freedom of violent individuals ahead of safety physics of innocent New Yorkers”.
While the Korean American Family Service Center has been serving Asian immigrant communities for 33 years, Jeehae Fischer, the organization’s executive director, said the ongoing senseless acts of hate are hitting too close to home.
“KAFSC stands with our allies in the ongoing fight for racial justice and equality. As we speak out against the continued and unwarranted attacks on members of our community, our hope is to leverage the shared experiences, expertise and energy of our community to support each other in pursuing our – not just today, this week or this year, but every day in the future, together,” Fischer said. “We must all stand together to demand justice and be collectively united to end racism and discrimination in our communities.”