On a hot 90 degree Sunday, Bowie residents came out to support a Stop The Hate Rally at Allen Pond Park with hopes of bringing peace to minority communities.
Raaheela Ahmed, the Prince George’s County school board member from Bowie, hosted the rally to show unity and solidarity for members of the community that are dealing with hate crimes.
“What we have seen over this year, is that hate knows no limits and it is important for us to stand together against hate,” Ahmed said. “I hope people feel a sense of unity and peace after attending this event.”
This rally just days before the anniversary of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis by Tameeka Washington, president and founder of the Interfaith Coalition of Bowie. She put this rally in response to rising attacks against Asian-Americans nationwide and violence against Black people.
“I wanted to take this opportunity as we come upon the anniversary of George Floyd to stand together as a community and say, ‘This will not stand,’” Washington said. “This is a nationwide conversation that we are having and we want to let Asian-Americans know here in Bowie, the county and Maryland that we stand with them.”
Floyd was killed by a police officer who detained him and then held him down with a knee on his neck until he died. The officer was convicted of his murder.
Washington doesn’t want this rally to be a one-time thing, she wants to let people know often that they stand with them. She said it is important to not stand in silence but to voice your opinion and support.
Mayor Tim Adams started his speech by saying “Stop the hate.”
“We allow those who hate to overpower the sound of love, equality and injustice. We have an obligation to pursue every avenue we can to stop the hate,” Adams said. “We have to stop the hate against gender bias, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and color of one’s skin.”
Adams was glad he could bring his grandchild to the rally to show the next generation what unity and love look like.
Having this rally at the park was intentional for Washington, she wanted it in person and outside so residents could attend and be a part of the conversation.
Esaly Filomeno, Bowie Resident, came out to support the rally and wanted to express his side as an Asian.
“What is going on with us being targeted, this was a good opportunity for us to support this event,” Filomeno said. “It is not just for the Asian community but the entire population as well.”
Filomeno said it is so important that minority communities come together to make this place better. “We should unite and this will help us Unite,” he said.
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Del. Lily Qi drove from her home in Montgomery County to speak at the event.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the outreach and support because this is how we build a stronger community by refusing to internalize racism and point fingers at each other” Qi said. “We are Americans too, no matter where we came from, which god we worship or which language we speak.”
Qi jokingly said during her speech, “Look at me. People elected me. A name they can’t even pronounce.” to show what America is all about.
She said America is a dichotomy, this place is the most welcoming country where only my story is possible but on the other hand, it has always had a long ugly history of marginalization and otherization.
“Once we knock whiteness off its pedestal, it is everyone’s responsibility to learn from each other,” Qi said. “teach young kids that we are all Americans.”
Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, D-Bowie,said there needs to be more events like Sunday’s rally to highlight misguided hate in America.
“We can come together to discuss hate in our communities in an honest and forthright manner. working together we can acknowledge each other’s pain and inequity,” Valentino-Smith said. “We can change hearts and minds in our diverse nation, we must join together to improve.”