Rallies against anti-Asian hate crimes stretched from San Francisco to DC this weekend, and the San Diego area was no exception.
Hundreds of protestors marched the sidewalks, holding signs, and getting plenty of honks and support from drivers in Carlsbad, Del Mar and the Carmel Valley area.
They stopped traffic in Carlsbad with the goal of stopping something else: discrimination and acts of violence against people of Asian descent.
“I’m a little bit surprised that the number of people who came out today was this much," said 19-year-old Carlsbad protestor Michael Carandeng.
Even more people came out down in Del Mar.
“I feel like we’ve been staying silent for a really, really long time," says one of the Carlsbad protest organizers, San Marcos High School junior Ara Lee. "I think it’s time and necessary for the Asian community locally to be able to speak up.”
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Lee and Pacific Ridge High School junior Joan Chong helped organize the protest in Carlsbad.
“As a kid growing up I never felt like I really belonged in either white or Asian communities," said Chong. "And it always felt like I couldn’t be pretty because I’m not white, or like people would make fun of my last name, and like micro-aggressions that I faced I will have to live with for my entire life.”
Since the pandemic, Stop AAPI Hate reports nearly 3,800 incidents of attacks against Asians. Forty-four percent of them occurred in California. The majority of victims were women.
“It is hurting real people in your community," says Chong. "Even if I’m not the subject of a hate crime, just seeing them on the news hurts.”
Here in San Diego, the district attorney office says it is actively investigating three hate crimes against Asians.
“We go through it in schools," says Lee. "We go through it at home. We go through it with our friends. It’s a genuine issue.
While the protests were planned by high schoolers, and thus saw many young participants, there was plenty of support and admiration from the older crowd too.
“I think in the past I had written off some of the attitudes or actions against me as just a part of life," said Yoojin Chong. "I never really tried to identify it as racism. We just kind of took it. Our parents have told us to basically keep our grievances to ourselves, but the young people are not doing that. They want to speak out when there is injustice and hate crimes. I think it was about time.”
So far Stop AAPI Hate has reported more than 500 hate crimes against Asians in 2021 alone.
Since last spring, the San Diego District Attorney’s office says it’s hate crime hotline has received 116 tips. Of that 10 crimes were allegedly committed against Asians. But Stop AAPI Hate reported 42 anti-Asian attacks in the San Diego area from March through December of last year. Those incidents ranged from vandalism and graffiti, to workplace discrimination and physical assault.
Anyone who suspects a hate crime against the Asian-American community, or other frequently targeted communities, can use the San Diego District Attorney's Office online form or hotline to report.
The tool was created, in part, in response to an increase in reports of hate-related incidents directed at Asian-American's DA Summer Stephan said in April 2020. Tips can be made online here or by calling (619) 515-8805.