FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Dozens of rallies were held across the country today in what’s being called Unity Against Hate, including in Fresno right outside the Save Mart Center.
The Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) Fresno chapter joined over a dozen other chapters in holding rallies across the country Saturday to raise awareness about discrimination and hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. May is also recognized as AAPI Heritage Month.
“We just need more support, and that’s why we’re here,” said Fresno resident Alex Yang.
In recent months attacks against the AAPI community have been on the rise nationwide, some ending deadly. One Fresno State student who spoke at the rally expressed fear over the safety of his family after in the wake of these attacks.
“All I could see were the face of my grandmothers, and thought to myself: who could do such a horrible thing? What did they do to deserve that?” said Ricky Van, a Fresno State Student and member of the university’s Lao Student Association.
Chong Yang is the chair of Fresno’s APAPA chapter. He says Saturday’s rally was intended as a safe space for the local AAPI community, or any group that has faced discrimination.
“When we see news of our elders or women, just Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders getting hurt, we feel there is a need to really voice our concern and bring attention,” Yang said.
Yang says beyond raising his voice about AAPI hate, he hopes to raise awareness that can bring more people in his community into local leadership roles.
“We don’t really see a lot of AAPI in leadership roles within the school system, within the city government, within universities,” Yang said. “What we really believe makes change is when you have leaders that really represents the population of the community that you serve.”
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer was also in attendance to show solidarity. He says this summer, his administration is creating an Office of Community Affairs to bridge the gap between city government and minority communities.
“We will have someone that can relate to the Asian community, the Punjabi community, the Latino community, the Black community,” Dyer said. “This office will be housed out of the mayor’s office. It will tear down any type of barriers that would prevent people from coming in.”
Dyer says the office is expected to begin in July as part of the 2021 city budget.