Hundreds protest Asian discrimination in Chandler - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Hundreds protest Asian discrimination in Chandler

March 25th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Hundreds protest Asian discrimination in Chandler

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Hundreds of residents gathered outside Chandler City Hall March 21 to protest discrimination against Asian-Americans as the nation was reeled from a deadly shooting in Georgia where six of the eight slain victims were Asian.

Councilman OD Harris organized the rally and he said among those who helped get the word out about it was former city Councilman Sam Huang.

Chandler has one of Arizona’s largest Asian-American populations.

“We are not going to allow other people to leave the Asian community out of Chandler,” Harris told the demonstrators. “We’re going to let the nation know Asian-Americans are here and they are a part of America.”

Harris said the City Council has recently discussed possibly drafting a non-discrimination ordinance that could better protect racial and ethnic minorities.   

Protesters marched around downtown carrying signs that advertised slogans like “Stop Asian Hate” and “Hate = Virus.”

“We want just to have more community harmony,” Huang said. “We need more education. We need more connections between different cultures.”

Huang, a native of Taiwan, said Asian communities have traditionally chosen to remain silent on most social issues but that Asian-Americans must speak out and not be afraid to participate in local activism.

“It’s not other people’s business. It’s everybody’s business,” Huang added. “If you treat yourself like a foreigner, you will be treated like a foreigner.”

Sunday’s rally took place less than a week after 21-year-old Robert Long was arrested in Atlanta for the spree that targeted several massage spas.

Long claims his “sexual addiction” prompted him to attack the massage parlors. He has not been charged with a hate crime, though many public figures believe the murders were racially motivated since so many of the victims were of Asian descent.

The Chandler rally also was motivated by an uptick nationwide in hate crimes and discrimination that have victimized Asian-Americans during the pandemic.

Because COVID-19 was first detected in China, haters blame Asians for causing the global pandemic – an assertion that scientists call ludicrous.

Stop AAPI Hate said it received more than 2,800 first-hand accounts of anti-Asian discrimination between March and December of 2020.

Stop AAPI Hate has collected anecdotes detailing incidents where strangers have spit at Asian-American citizens and shouted at them to “go back to China.”

“These violent assaults have a devastating impact on our community as they are part of an alarming rise in anti-Asian American hate during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stop AAPI Hate stated. “Urgent action must be taken to protect our AAPI community from hate, discrimination and violence.”

More than 10 percent of Chandler’s population is Asian – which in whole numbers is twice the number of Asian Americans statewide.

Mayor Kevin Hartke also spoke in support of Chandler’s Asian communities.

The ordinance could be similar to the one ratified by the Mesa City Council earlier this month. It prohibits discrimination in public places on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Huang said he has experienced instances throughout his political career where he felt targeted or shamed for his Taiwanese ancestry. During his congressional campaign last summer, he called attention to the fact that only his political posters around Chandler were defaced.

Huang said he’s tried to ignore these “unfriendly incidents,” but that today’s social climate has compelled him to be more outspoken.   

The former councilman is planning to organize more rallies across the Valley in the coming weeks and hopes they will spur more civic participation from the Asian community.

“When you feel you are part of this society, you will not be afraid to be verbal,” Huang added.