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March in Saint Paul demands: “Stand up against hate! justice for our Asian siblings!”

By Montana Hirsch

March in St Paul, MN against anti Asian violence

Saint Paul, MN – On the afternoon of April 2, about 50 people gathered for a protest in Saint Paul’s Frogtown area to “Stand up against hate” and demand justice for Asian people who have been targeted in hate crimes, discrimination and violence.

The action was organized by Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) and Minnesota 8 (MN8) and was called in response to the recent attacks on the Asian community in New York City as well as commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings. The Atlanta Young’s Asian Massage victims include: Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon C. Park, Hyun J. Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong A. Yue. One additional victim, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, was injured in the shooting. Recent New York hate crime victims include Yao Pan Ma, a Chinese immigrant, Michelle Alyssa Go, Christina Yuna Lee and GuiYing Ma.

The group gathered at the corner of the Sun Foods parking lot on University Avenue in Saint Paul to hear speeches, do chants and then set off on a march. Speakers included Brooklyn Park City Councilmember Xp Lee, Reverend Jenny Sung, Rebecca Chang from MN8, and Diana Hernandez and Louie Tran, organizers with MIRAC.

Councilmember Xp Lee spoke first, asking the crowd, “Who wants to see their grandparents beaten up? Who wants to see their family members murdered and harassed? Also, who wants to see their people deported who have been here long and have built a great life here for themselves in this country? I don’t want to see that. You all don’t want to see that. But we are going to continue to see that if we don’t fight for the changes that we need to see happen.”

Between speeches, the emcees read out the names of victims of Atlanta spa shootings and the most recent victims of hate crimes in NYC and the crowd responded with “Presente!” to say that they are still here with us.

Rebecca Chang of MN8 reminded the crowd that violence against Asians in the United States is not new. She said, “This county has been built on a culture of hate and violence since the start. Since the start of Asians Americans arriving in the United States, we’ve been stereotyped as perpetual foreigners, even though our ancestors and families are in the United States in the first place because of economic inequality and war that the U.S. had a direct part in creating around the world.”

MN8 organizes to end detention and deportation in Southeast Asian communities, and Chang informed the crowd that “over 16,000 Southeast Asian community members currently have deportation orders.”

Reverend Jenny Sung spoke next, thanking the crowd for standing up against hate and reminding them: “We have each other’s back.”

Diana Hernandez from MIRAC ended the first set of speakers with the reminder that, “It would be so easy to blame the entirety of the rise of this wave of violence on Trump’s racist handling of the pandemic, but we must confront the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic only aggravated the xenophobia and racism that already existed in this country.” She then highlighted the link between Asian American immigrants and other non-white immigrants who have confronted discrimination and violence and brought attention to the culture of fetishization of Asians in the U.S., exclaiming: “that's not appreciation, that’s exploitation!”

The protesters then set off on a march down a stretch of University Avenue in the Frogtown neighborhood, home to a significant Asian-American community and many shops and restaurants of various Asian nationalities. They chanted slogans such as, “When Asian people are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

The march ended back at the starting point, where one last speaker, Louie Tran from MIRAC, addressed the crowd, saying, “They’re gonna always try to divide us” he said, and then asked the crowd to remember the link between the Asian community, the Black community and other ethnic groups, reminding them to keep coming out to support each other’s struggles. The action ended with a final, energetic chant of: “The people, united, will never be defeated!”

#SaintPaulMN #ImmigrantRights #PeoplesStruggles #AsianNationalities #MIRAc #MN8