Peter Au felt encouraged to see that hundreds showed up Sunday in Mineola to condemn the violent attacks that have spread fear among the Asian American community.
Au, a financial adviser who commutes weekly to Flushing, Queens, for work, said he worries about his safety.
"On the way to my office even during broad daylight, I still feel the fear," said Au, 45, of Garden City, at the end of the hourlong rally. "I don’t know if anybody was going to walk behind me and start attacking me."
Just last month, a man came up behind a 36-year-old Asian man walking on a street in Manhattan’s Chinatown and stabbed him in the torso, leaving the victim hospitalized in critical condition.
"It’s been a very, very tragic year in 2020. Not only did we have to fight COVID-19, as a minority living in this country we also had to fight racism," Au said. "I’m glad that there’s a huge turnout today and see so many different groups supporting us."
The rally held outside the Nassau County Legislative Building drew about 300 attendees, many of whom held up signs that said "END VIOLENCE AGAINST ASIANS" and "Justice for Grandpa VICHA," the first name of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died in January after being slammed onto the pavement in San Francisco. Ratanapakdee's death was one of the violent assaults that ignited a national outcry over the discrimination and harassment that some Asian Americans said they’ve endured since the pandemic began. President Joe Biden in a nationally televised speech last Thursday condemned violence against Asian Americans.
"We are not looking for any different way of treating us," said Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), who arrived at the United States at the age of 10. He is the state’s first Indian American state senator. "Just treat us the same as everyone else."
As Thomas and others spoke, Young Ono of Stewart Manor waved a "#STOP ASIAN HATE" sign along with her daughter, Alexandra, 7, who held a second sign that said: "HATE IS A VIRUS." The mother of two wrote the letters and her daughter and son Jayson, 3, decorated the signs with color-filled hearts and stars.
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