Rally at SF City Hall on May 4th 6-8pm

In response to the recent violent attacks against the Asian American community in the San Francisco Bayview and the city of Oakland, we are organizing a peaceful rally at the steps of SF City Hall on Tuesday, May 4 @ 6pm.

This rally is first and foremost an opportunity for the Chinese and Asian American community, particularly immigrants and elders, to speak out about their experiences with violence in their communities and to demand that San Francisco city leadership act immediately to address this crisis.

We will demand that city leaders take immediate actions to address the issue of violence against the Asian community. We believe that long-term solutions are needed to address violence in all communities, however in the short-term, immediate actions must be taken.

We understand that violence happens in all communities but we, the Chinese/Asian American community, have been silent on this issue for too long and need to make our voices heard and join with other communities of color.

Please come join us at this rally to demonstrate your support!

What I find disturbing is the tendency for people to downplay the anti-Asian racism of late, despite the pattern that is emerging: the Muni attacks, the Oakland death, the South Philly High incident and countless other acts of violence and disrespect that are not even reported on the news. In fact there was not any coverage of last week's rally at SF's City Hall by the Chinese American community protesting the violence. 500+ people showed up, mostly older Asian Americans, who came out in the rain to meet with the Mayor. And yet nobody reported it on that day.

No coverage at all of this rally by the Bay Area news channels or by any of the Asian American blogs, including mine because I found out at the last minute. No coverage by the AA blogosphere and no outrage. This is appalling. What is the use of calling yourself a blogger speaking on behalf of Asian Americans if you don't advocate for the safety and respect of your community? What use are you as a journalist if you do not present all the facts and all viewpoints?

There is clearly a big disconnect between Asian Americans indoctrinated in Anglo American culture and sentiment (whether conservative or liberal) and those Asian immigrants who live and work in poor urban neighborhoods. This disconnect between ABC's and immigrants is apparent, because the only Bay Area media platform that immigrants have is the Chinese language radio station. Every since the YouTube video showing the altercation on Muni, Chinese immigrants have been calling into the radio show, voicing their frustrations over the assaults on their safety, property and respect that have been going on FOR DECADES. I've seen 40 years worth of assaults, muggings and racist microaggressions perpetuated against Asians in the Bay Area, and yet white liberals and their yellow Uncle Tom's want to paint San Francisco as a Shangri-la free of racism with the moral snottiness to judge other cities and states (like Arizona).

Here's an excerpt from a local column on SF Gate that best illustrates the frustration on the part of Asian Americans living in the City:

African Americans attacking Asians is a reality, said Young Kong, a local talk radio show host on a Chinese language station.

"This is a hate crime," he said. "The supervisors don't want to say it because they don't want to exacerbate the tension. They are too chicken, too politically correct."

Cheng says she has a long-term relationship with her neighbor, who is black, and the people who rushed to her aid were all African American. This isn't a race war. But something is happening here.

"Let's face it, if older black men were being killed by marauding groups of kids, we'd be going crazy," said Lynette Sweet, a lifelong resident of District 10 and candidate for supervisor there. "We in the black community have to take responsibility for our kids."

The concern, however, is that the discussion is too polarizing. No truly great city can allow this. It is time to take a break from debating boycotting Arizona for its immigration policy and look at our own streets.

"This is the immigrant's voice not being heard in a city of immigrants," said Yvonne Lee, a former police commissioner who helped translate for Cheng. "This is years of frustration and fear that has burned into anger."

People downplay the anti-Asian sentiment and rationalize the violence as crimes of poverty. Plenty of poor people are law abiding citizens and do not commit crimes. And yet people who don't even live in these neighborhoods have the audacity to lecture you on how statistically there is more Black on Black violence and crime, quoting studies that don't even bother including Asian Americans in the statistics in the first place.

SF Gate: Dirty secret of black-on-Asian violence is out

That's what community organizer Carol Mo calls the realization that Asian residents are being targeted for robberies, burglaries and intimidation by young black men.

"It is San Francisco's dirty little secret," said Mo, a former Safety Network Community organizer in the Sunset District. "It's not news to us."

Hundreds of people marched into Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting to express their fear, frustration and outrage. But so far the response has been disappointing, particularly from the San Francisco Police Department. It seems intent on downplaying the role of race and its impact in the community.

The recent incidents of black violence against Asians is the perfect opportunity to open a dialogue about racism. Instead, they are attempting to close the door.

City officials, including the Police Department, say these assaults are part of a larger crime picture where gangs of kids take advantage of a vulnerable group of small stature. But Mo participated in a 2008 survey by the Police Department in which about 300 strong-arm robberies were analyzed.

"In 85 percent of the physical assault crimes, the victims were Asian and the perpetrators were African American," she said.

The squeamishness city officials are experiencing about confronting those numbers doesn't reflect well on anyone. No one is saying the entire African American community is violent. But ignoring the legitimate anger and frustration from Asians is disingenuous and unfair.

"We love San Francisco," said the Rev. Norman Fong, a Presbyterian minister. "And we don't want to do anything to divide the communities. But at the same time, our community is hurting and we feel like our voices are not being heard."

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