xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

‘We can’t make sense of the senseless’: Hundreds gather in Columbia to protest rise of anti-Asian violence

Hundreds of people gathered at the Columbia Lakefront on Wednesday evening to speak out against the onslaught of Asian hate speech and violence seen across the country and the state of Maryland in the past few weeks.

It was the latest in a series of events supporting the Asian American community in Howard County, where that population accounts for 18% of the residents.

Advertisement

Last week, six Asian American women were gunned down at spas in Atlanta. In Howard, countywide Facebook groups filled with stories about recent violent incidents against those in the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community. Burglars struck six businesses — four of them Asian-owned restaurants — on the Lunar New Year in February. On Monday, the Howard County Police Department said it was investigating a report of an Asian woman in her 50s struck in the face by an unknown assailant.

On Sunday, at least 50 people, including several elected officials, gathered outside Columbia Chinese Baptist Church in Ellicott City to remember the victims of the Atlanta shootings and to raise awareness about hate crimes committed in Howard County. And on Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, first lady Yumi Hogan and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball visited “Korean Way” in Ellicott City, meeting with Asian American business and community leaders.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Among the dozens of speakers at Wednesday’s event, which was organized after a few leaders in the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community created a group chat to have their more than 40 groups come together to host it, were a few Howard County students who spoke about their experiences in the classroom and their hopes for the future.

Trish Nhan, a senior at Howard High School, spoke about the fear she felt after the Atlanta shootings. She said the hardworking Asian American women killed there look like her mom who works at a local salon.

“I get concerned for her safety at work, while she worries for me,” Nhan said. “We can’t make sense of the senseless.”

Ying Matties, co-founder of Chinese American Network for Diversity and Opportunity, spoke about the problems behind the “model minority myth,” referring to the perception of some that there is universal success among Asian Americans.

Advertisement

“These stereotypes can take a dangerous turn,” Matties said. “We have the responsibility to push against these stereotypes.”

Ming Du, chair of the Chinese American Parent Association of Howard County board of directors, called for the formation of an Asian security task force to protect against the increased threats of violence.

“When officials give fake love and we don’t hold them accountable, we will never overcome,” Du said.

At Monday’s event in Ellicott City, Hogan announced that he had directed the Maryland State Police and all state law enforcement agencies to immediately increase their enhanced visibility patrols and provide increased protection for members of the Asian community.

Du, along with other speakers, pushed for more accountability among elected officials. All of the County Council, a former and the current county executive, many members of the Howard state delegation and members of the Board of Education were present Wednesday, among other elected officials.

The issue of anti-Asian rhetoric is not new in the United States, Zainab Chaudry, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said during her remarks. The chapters of the book of American history are filled with hate against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community, she said.

“Evil wins when we do nothing, and that must not happen on our watch,” Chaudry said.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement