SAN JOSE, Calif. - A contingent of South Bay leaders from government, law enforcement and business turned out Saturday afternoon to rally against hate.
They focused their attention on recent crimes against Asians and Pacific Islanders that have hit the Bay Area and beyond.
San Jose City Hall served as the meeting spot where a couple of hundred people gathered to denounce the recent increase in violence and xenophobia.
The rally is part of a campaign called Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate, a response to an escalation in bigotry that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Bad actors have been espousing dangerous and false rhetoric about this pandemic, rhetoric that has unfairly put a target on the backs of the folks in the Asian Pacific Islander community," said Pam Foley, a San Jose city council member.
This year alone, there have been upwards of two dozen reported incidents against the AAPI community in the Bay Area.
This week, a Santa Clara woman was charged with spitting on an Asian man in Mountian View.
A 26-year-old man was arrested after being accused of robbing and attacking a 75-year-old man who died shortly thereafter.
And a woman was sexually assaulted at a San Jose train station.
"The male assailant screamed slurs at her while grabbing her neck and violently flinging her about," said Dr. Kathleen Wong, SJSU Chief Diversity Officer.
Assemblyman Evan Low said, after witnessing San Jose City Hall host other rallies for Pride, Women’s Rights, and Black Lives Matter, he carried an uneasy feeling.
"I always thought to myself, a significant fear that one day we too would be marching for Asian pacific islander lives, and that fear, unfortunately, has been realized," said Assemblyman Low.
Several South Bay law enforcement departments attended the rally, including Sunnyvale’s Police Chief, Phan Ngo, who told the crowd he began experiencing bigotry 40 years ago when he arrived as an immigrant.
"I would have hoped 40 years from then, things would have gotten better, but they’ve gotten worse," said Ngo.
Speaker after speaker denounced the hatred and vowed to unite to fight for those who are targets.
A representative from the District Attorney’s office implored those who don’t look like recent victims not to think of the string of recent crimes as being a problem that only affects "those" people.
"Protect your neighbor, as you would your neighborhood. This is our problem, and we will face it squarely together," Jay Boyarsky, Chief Assistant DA.
Law Enforcement vowed to tackle the problem, but say they will need the public’s help.
They’re urging anyone who experiences or witnesses what is thought to be a hate crime to report it, so it can be investigated and charged appropriately.