Asian Americans are uniting in cities across the nation to demand action against racist violence and to pay tribute to the eight people who were fatally shot two years ago at three Atlanta-based spas.
Co-organized by Stand with Asian Americans in partnership with various other Asian American equity organizations, the rallies will also mourn the lives lost in the Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park shootings that happened earlier this year.
"Less than a month ago, another family is experiencing what my family had to go through," Robert Peterson, the son of Atlanta Spa shooting victim Yong Ae Yue, told ABC News. "And we stand here we say, we don't want other families to experience this. But again, and again, we see exactly that. And we see our leadership lacking in that, lacking in progression, lacking in leadership."
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Trade Representative ambassador Katherine Tai said Thursday the Biden administration is committed to combatting anti-Asian hate and gender-based violence.
"From Atlanta to Monterey Park, we have met too many community members shaken by acts of mass violence. And the effects of trauma from these incidents can often persist for decades," the officials said in a statement. "This administration remains committed to providing culturally and linguistically appropriate resources, including mental health support, as part of our long-term efforts to advance safety, inclusion, and belonging for AA and NHPI communities. We continue to be inspired by local leaders and advocates working to build a future without fear, and who demonstrate the resilience of the AA, NHPI, and Atlanta communities."
In an official statement from the White House on Thursday, President Biden offered his condolences to the Asian community and those who were affected by the Atlanta spa shootings.
"I want you to know that I see you. My Administration sees you. And we are determined to end the scourge of gun violence, anti-Asian hate, and all forms of racism and extremism in this Nation. We remain determined in the belief that out of solace there is strength, from fear there is hope, and from darkness comes light," Biden said.
Charles Jung, executive director of APAs vs. Hate and a civil rights attorney, coordinated the March 16 "Always With Us: Asian Americans Rise Against Hate" event taking place in Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, New York and San Francisco.
"This violence is only kind of the latest manifestation of violence against our community," Jung said. "This event is important to remember because this is about fighting the prejudice against our community while we also heal and build for the future."
According to a survey last year by Pew Research Center, "about one-in-five Asian Americans say they worry daily or almost daily that they might be threatened or attacked because of their race or ethnicity, while 51% say they worry sometimes."
Eugena Oh, a volunteer with Stand with Asian Americans NYC and the NYC regional director of the Asian American Foundation, hopes the nation understands the rising concern among the Asian American community.
"These things are still happening and it is creating a sense of fear and a lack of safety in our community," she said.
Poet Amanda Nguyen, Brandon Tsay, the man who stopped the gunman in Monterey Park, and Asian American leaders, activists, community members and elected officials will speak at the rallies.
Peterson said Thursday’s rallies allow the public to hear the stories of those whose lives were cut short because of hate crimes.
"It's important for me to put a face to those stories," Peterson said. "This is my mother. This is not just a regular event. This is not another mass shooting, but this was my mother."
While the events strive to promote unity across the nation, each city plans to emphasize issues that are going on locally, such as San Francisco's focus on low-wage workers and New York City’s emphasis on Asian women.
"The idea of it being national but at the same time reflective of the constituents and the population and the community and the issues that they’re facing locally was important to highlight for each one of the cities," said Wendy Nguyen, co-founder of Stand with Asian Americans.
This will be the second year that the organizations have created synchronized rallies nationwide.