After a national surge of racist incidents against Asian Americans in the past year, local organizations are hosting a “Stop Asian Hate” rally and march Saturday near downtown West Lafayette.
The rally is scheduled for 12:30-2 p.m. in front of the West Lafayette City Hall building in Chauncey Village. The event is being organized by the West Lafayette Chinese community, who have partnered with the City of West Lafayette, Purdue Student Government, Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies and YWCA.
Shan Chen, the organizer of the rally, said she approached West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis and asked him to issue a statement condemning the violence. She also started a Change.org petition asking for a statement in response to last month’s shooting of eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were Asian women. The petition had nearly 300 signatures as of Wednesday evening.
“It’s pretty simple, moving forward with the essential human needs of inclusion and belonging for people of all races, national origins and ethnicities is critical to the peace of mind and feelings of safety and security for all of us,” Dennis said in his later statement. “Offensive, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric has put Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) at risk.”
Shannon Kang, the chief of staff for PSG who’s hometown is Atlanta, said she was devastated in the aftermath of the shooting.
Kang, who is also a West Lafayette city councilor said, “In West Lafayette, we don’t need a big push to stand up for someone. Over the summer when (Black Lives Matter) was happening, West Lafayette stood up for them.”
Kang is Asian American and said she feared for her family.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that (the events) weren’t the first of its kind,” Kang said. “It was really terrifying because the first thought that I had was, this could be my mom.”
The purpose of the rally was detailed by the mission statement jointly issued by the organizing groups.
“We must give out the voice of our community and raise attention to this issue on a societal level. We call for all West Lafayette community members who love peace and justice to take actions,” the mission statement reads.
YWCA Greater Lafayette chapter President Allison Beggs was in line with the organization’s goals of fighting against racism while empowering women.
“We believe Greater Lafayette is enriched by the input and inclusion of our Asian American and Pacific Islander community and that society is stronger when everyone is given equitable opportunity to thrive,” she said.
“We want to raise awareness on the alarming increase of hate crimes against Asian communities across the country,” Chen said. “And remind people that we are all the same.”
PSG Press Secretary Emily Johnson spoke about the statement released by PSG cabinet members on March 17.
“I signed it with urgency,” Johnson said. “If we could have consulted each branch beforehand and made the statement on behalf of the entire organization, we would have. But what I’m really hoping is that we don’t have to make these kinds of statements in the future.”