Chicago area Asian-American leaders, lawmakers react to rise in targeted violence
On Thursday, April 1, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Commissioner Josina Morita, alongside local elected officials and community organizations, joined in raising their voices against violence in the Asian American community and standing up against hate in all forms.
More than 300 people gathered in Lovelace Park in Evanston for the candlelight vigil to commemorate the Atlanta shooting victims and to call attention to recent anti-Asian violence. Rally participants were asked to bring candles and posters to the event.
Eight people were shot and killed in the Atlanta area when a shooter targeted numerous spas in the area. Six of those victims were Asian women.
Anti-Asian hate crimes saw a surge over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been nearly 3,800 reports of incidents targeting the Asian community since the start of the pandemic.
At the candlelight vigil, federal, state, local lawmakers, religious leaders, community activists and several social and humanitarian organizations reacted to rising in targeted violence, including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Rev. Michael C. R. Nabors, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Maricar Ramos, Sophie Yang, Rabbi Andrea C. London, Asayo hisbe and others.
"The Asian American community has a long history of enduring xenophobia and racism all over the USA. Enough is enough. And it's been going on long before the Atlanta shootings. A hate crime against Asians is racially motivated. We were attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. we all must stand together against all types of hate in this country," one speaker said.
A minute's silence had taken place for victims of Atlanta-area spas. A dozen of Pakistani community members showed up in the leadership of Mohammed Yasin Chohan to the rally in solidarity with Asian.
Lawmakers encouraged attendees to support two state house bills currently on the Illinois general assembly. One bill is extending the hate crime protection act based on immigration and citizenship status, which was submitted by Asian American Caucus leaders.
The Asian American caucus plans to work Jointly Black and Latino caucuses to push out legislation to "achieve common goals of a more Impartial for Illinois."
The rally was co-sponsored by dozens of local nonprofits such as Second Baptist Church, Evanston/North Shore NAACP, Evanston Unitarian Church, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Bethel AME Church, Bethany Baptist Church, Beth Emet the Free Synagogue, Northminster Presbyterian Church, Democratic Party of Evanston, Organization for Positive Action and Leadership, Evanston Cradle to Career and Jewish United Fund.