By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer
CARSON — The Alliance Against Asian Hate held a rally in front of Carson City Hall on March 28, one of several protests over the last two weekends responding to anti-Asian hate crimes that have been reported across the country.
With Alex Cainglet serving as emcee, elected officials and community leaders called for a united front both within the AAPI community and between AAPIs and other groups. One of the signs bore the names of victims of recent attacks, including the Atlanta-area spa shootings.
State Sen. Steve Bradford, whose district includes Carson, said, “I grew up in the South Bay my entire life, and there’s always been a strong alliance with the African American community and the Asian community. This is not new.
“We need to come to a realization that the hatred that Asians are facing is the hatred that’s the foundation of this country. It is in our DNA. And we should say is enough because if it’s not you today, it will be me tomorrow. So we need to stand in solidarity. This country’s bedrock of its foundation was built on annihilating the red man, enslaving the black man and exploiting the brown and the yellow man, and nothing has changed …
“We cannot allow what has been perpetuated by a bad man in the White House for the last four years to incite this type of division and racism in this country.”
Bradford said that the Legislativve Black Caucus, which he chairs, “stands strong with our Asian brothers and sisters, and we’re excited about the governor’s appointment last week of Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American, the first Asian American to serve as our attorney general … a champion for civil rights.”
Assemblymember Mike Gipson said, “I served on the Carson City Council, and let me simply say this: I am damned tired of the attacks I’ve seen in the news media toward our Asian brothers and sisters. I am damned tired that our elderly are being subjected to attacks …
“This started four years ago in Washington, D.C., where we had a racist president … because he has spewed division and hatred … We condemn hatred in this country because united we stand, divided we fall. Today’s rally is a clarion call not to be silent … We refuse to be silent about the hate, the attacks on our Asian brothers and sisters.”
Gipson urged the audience to take action. “We need each and every one of you to raise your voices … to join projects and demonstrations, peaceful protests, peaceful demonstrations, and make sure your voices are heard.”
Carson Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes said, “We have to become the change-makers. We cannot sit back silently and watch our brothers and sisters afraid to go out of their homes. If they’re afraid to go out of their homes, I’m afraid to go out of mine because when they hurt, I hurt.
“Carson is a united, diverse city. We are proud to be the most diverse city in the United States. And I have a united council that [says] we will not stand by silently … On Tuesday’s agenda we have a resolution saying that we oppose any hate against our Asian brothers and sisters, and we want to make our voices heard around the world.“
Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama of Long Beach Buddhist Church dedicated a moment of silence and a prayer for “all those who passed away, or got injured or traumatized … and their families and friends.”
Yokoyama said he comes from a community that has experienced harassment and discrimination, but until recently has rarely talked about it. “Now their children and grandchildren’s generations are speaking out on their behalf.”
Facing a cycle of hatred and ignorance, he said, he asks the community to “surround all people, all forms of life with infinite love and compassion. Particularly on this day, we send out compassionate thoughts acknowledging suffering and sorrow … the embodiment of solidarity with the Asian community and their friends.”
Carson Mayor Pro Tem Jim Dear told the crowd, “You’re here today because you have made a commitment to your brothers and sisters in Carson. You’ve made a commitment to come to this rally to stop hate against all people. Stop Asian hate, Pacific Islander hate, hate against Hispanics and African Americans and Middle Easterners and Jews and Catholics …
“I believe that [hate] is not in our DNA, but it’s been put there by evil forces. The demons that live inside people today, this hatred for people who are of a different ethnic group, is senseless and it’s ignorant. It’s prejudiced, and it has no basis in reality …
“Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been to many rallies where people talk, but we’re not just going to talk about this. I’m a results-oriented elected official, like by colleagues behind me. We want action …
“There certainly are not enough Asian and Pacific Islander police officers and sheriffs. There needs to be more so the Asian Pacific Islander community feels as comfortable as anyone else to call the police or the sheriff when you need it and not not call because you feel they don’t understand you.”
Dear closed by reading the proclamation that was to be introduced on March 30. “Do not be afraid to act is the message that we … are asking you to join us to do. We are joining you today, but we’re asking you to join us to stop hatred,” he said.
Carson City Councilmember Cedric Hicks said, “We’re here because of injustice being done, not only here, but the entire world, understanding that we’re here because we are tired of having to look over our shoulders. Our fear has been driving us for too long …
“We’re … a city that is the most diverse in the nation … For us to be here, it is a catalyst for letting the community know and the world know we are tired of Asian hate. Recently we were on these same steps in protest for Black Lives Matter. My questions to all of you — what race is next? Why are we having to go through this? We must never accept this … in this city or any other city in the United States.”
Tanya Ortiz Franklin of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education said, “Look around. This is representation in Carson, in Los Angeles and L.A. Unified … I feel really blessed to have grown up in L.A. Unified. I went to Fleming Middle School and my best friends were a Black girl and a Filipino girl … We celebrated that we were different and that’s the kind of attitude we want to have in our schools and community, to see our differences as strength, to build compassion with those that are experiencing this world differently from ourselves.”
Having visited about 100 schools so far, Franklin said, “Our kids are our future … The young people have a vision that you are representing here today. It’s against hate, it’s against harassment. It is for love, it is for liberation. Young people teach us that our struggles are wrapped up in each other’s, that whether we are black or white, Latina or Asian American, our solidarity makes us stronger and our shared liberation is all of our responsibility.”
She added that the school board on March 8 issued a statement that it will not accept anti-AAPI hate and harassment and that “we all need to do our part to celebrate diversity.”
Romeo Hebron of the Filipino Migrant Center pointed out, “In the last year, over 3,800 incidents have been reported against the Asian community … We’re here in solidarity. We want people to organize, and we have to use the love that we’re feeling today in this space to be able to organize.”
Carson City Councilmember Jawayne Hilton said he was pleased to join other elected officials “to show our support, stand in solidarity and let you know we’re not going to tolerate the hate.”
Capt. Damon Jones of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Carson Station said, “The City of Carson, executive staff, state staff … aren’t going to stand for any type of hate, any type of incidents, any type of mistreatment, any type of bias against … our Asian American community, Pacific Islander community, or any other ethnic community within our city and surrounding areas …
“The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, as well as the Carson Sheriff’s Station, is constantly looking at ways to make sure there’s no credible threats against any of our community members. We want you guys to feel safe and secure. Please do not hesitate to make that call …
“We believe in that diversity in our sheriff’s station reflecting the community that we serve. So please, those who may be interested in law enforcement, we are seeking you out. Please do not hesitate to call us … We want you to be involved. We want you to be part of our family.”
“Stand Up and Speak Up”
Adrian Roxas of Roxas Law & Conflict Resolution, a Filipino American born and raised in Carson, said, “I’m proud to say that I was a prosecutor for 14 years in the Compton Courthouse, where I prosecuted violent crimes and protected this community. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done as a community … It saddens me to realize that the reason why I’m home today is because we are at war … against racist individuals and other organizations that perpetuate racism against the AAPI community and our communities of color.
“We have to understand that we are not the first victims of hate. We are not the first victims of racism. And unless we act today, we will not be the last … It’s incumbent on us, it’s incumbent on our community, it’s incumbent on every single one of you here today to stand up and to speak up when you see any incidents or if you are a victim of hate yourself …
“My wife and I practice in Torrance and we are proud to say that we are pro bono attorneys for victims of hate crimes. We spent countless hours making sure that victims’ rights are protected in courts … If you or anyone you know has been a victim of hate, we will gladly talk to them on a pro bono basis.”
Roxas’ daughter Kayden read a statement from the Alliance Against Asian Hate. “We are proud as Asian American citizens … We’re making it clear that Asians are not the source of the virus and that the virus is racism,” she said. “These violent attacks have instilled fear in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities … Historically. Asians have not been treated with equality, from the exclusionary act to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
“And yet Asian Americans and our talents have contributed to medicine, science, and mathematics. We cannot deny that many of the frontline workers who are fighting the pandemic are Asian, in particular Filipino American nurses, doctors, and caregivers. Today, we are here to express that it is very important to focus on unity and diversity. Racism will only divide us. We must condemn the hate crimes. Instead, let us spread love and understanding of our differences.”
Cerritos City Councilmember Frank Aurelio Yokoyama, speaking as the son of a Japanese American and a Filipina American immigrant, the husband of a Korean American immigrant, and the father of two children, said, “My family, just like you, are not responsible for the pandemic. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not responsible for the pandemic. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not responsible for anyone’s sex addiction …
“Let’s have a moment of silence for the victims of the horrible hate crime, murders committed by a racist in Georgia. Let’s also have a moment of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and numerous other murder victims of African American racist hate and violence. May all of those victims rest in power.”
He added, “AAPI hate affects Cerritos, it affects Carson, it affects our entire state of California, it affects our entire country … I just wanted to say, please vote. Register to vote. Elections have consequences. Also, just like you’re doing today, speak up loudly, speak up clearly.”
Singer Shekinah performed two songs, including Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.” Other speakers included Paz Velasquez of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, Carson Planning Commissioner Jamie Monteclaro, activist and Roxas Foundation scholarship recipient Alice Wong, rally organizer Frederick Alain Docdocil, Pastor Freddy Gomez, and a representative of the Samoan Federation of America.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo