A Day of Action

Philadelphia activists came together on Saturday for a National Day of Action Against Asian Hate.

Naomi Klensin (left) stands next to her father, Jacob Klensin, holding a sign that reads “Please keep my grandma safe” at the National Day of Action Against Asian Hate protest at Franklin Square on March 27. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

On Saturday, hundreds gathered at Franklin Square on Seventh Street near Race for a National Day of Action Against Asian Hate. Protesters stood in solidarity with the Asian American community in response to thousands of reported hate crimes toward Asian Americans linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the recent killing of eight people in Atlanta, Georgia, six of them being women of Asian descent.

On March 16, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long shot and killed eight people at three separate Atlanta-area spas, the New York Times reported

Long was arrested without incident that same night after a highway pursuit by Georgia state police, Reuters reported.

The case’s investigation remains open and authorities are looking at every angle of the case, including the shooter’s motivations, according to a statement from the Atlanta Police Department

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, a legal advocacy organization protecting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, released a statement following the killings.

“We are heartbroken by these murders, which come at a time when Asian American communities are already grappling with the traumatic violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by the United States’ long history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and gender-based violence,” it read.

Philadelphia’s Saturday protest was held alongside demonstrations in several cities across the country in a National Day of Action Against Asian Hate initiated by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition. 

The Party for Socialism and Liberation-Philly organized the protest, which started at 12 p.m at Franklin Square. 

Tina Ngo, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and a 2020 political science alumna, said the protest was meant to uplift members of the community facing oppression.

“We’re not intending it to be a day of reaction anymore,” Ngo said. “We have to make sure that we are uplifting ourselves. Whether that’s Asians or whether that’s Black people, or you know, the Latino community, we have to uplift ourselves to get together and to stand up together and be like, ‘We cannot keep letting this happen.’”

The rally was endorsed by several organizations, like the Temple University Asian Students Association, Black Alliance for Peace, Temple Young Democratic Socialists of America, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine and the Green Party of Philadelphia. 

Katie Miernicki, a senior political science and philosophy major who is vice president of Temple Young Democratic Socialists of America, attended the protest.

“It’s very important to have that multinational solidarity and interracial solidarity with people,” Miernicki said.

Grace Ahn, associate director of admissions at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, gave a speech at the protest about being a Korean American mother who’s concerned for her daughter and her mother. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ahn had a gut-wrenching feeling that it was going to be problematic for the Asian community, she said.

“And a few days later, while holding my two-year-old daughter’s hand walking to the playground, a man stopped his car in the middle of an intersection to yell at me to go back to China,” Ahn said. “But as I stand here in front of all of you, I am comforted, I feel your strength, I feel your support, and I’m here to say out loud that I am proud to be Korean.”

After the speeches at Franklin Square, the crowd of demonstrators marched down Sixth Street and ended at the Chinatown Friendship Gate at 10th and Arch streets at 2:30 p.m. 

Sister Gertrude Borres, 72, director for the Office for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees who lives at 47th Street and Springfield Avenue, attended the protest.

“We Asians were very, very quiet, and we usually do not want to cause a lot of trouble,” Borres said. “But I think it’s time that we speak up and that we show that we cannot just allow Asian hate and discrimination.” 

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