SALT LAKE CITY — More than 100 people gathered at Salt Lake City’s International Peace Gardens Saturday to rally against racism and violence targeted at Asian Americans.
The event was held in response to a mass shooting in Georgia that killed eight people, including six of Asian descent.
“I am half Black and half Asian,” said Deja Gaston, one of the organizers. “It’s hard to get a break in between the several racist crimes that have increased in the past year.”
Several members of Utah’s Asian community spoke to the crowd on how racism has impacted their lives.
“It’s the microaggressions of being called weird, being told my grandmother’s cooking stinks and having people being scared to even share the same space as me,” one speaker said.
“Change only begins when we decide that it should, and this moment is certainly calling out for all of us to bring about that change,” added another.
According to a group called Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks anti-Asian racism, 3,795 incidents were reported between March 2020 and February 2021. Those include verbal harassment, civil rights violations, physical assaults, and shunning.
The FBI has not yet released its hate crime data for 2020, but some at the rally blamed recent comments made by politicians for the spike in incidents.
“You see a lot of that same rhetoric that’s come out and in the span of the last few years of what’s being said towards China. It's honestly gross and racist tropes,” Gaston said.
Those at the rally hope to find healing while working for solutions that will end violence caused by racism.
“It’s hard to watch. It’s a lot of trauma to see,” Gaston said.
“Whatever we do, it’s important to keep kindness and empathy in our hearts, no matter how angry we are,” one speaker said at the conclusion of the rally.