“When I was attacked in the subway, there were so many New Yorkers around me, but no one came to my aid, no one made a video,” the 61-year-old Filipino American said.
“I was afraid I would not make it … We are all New Yorkers and we have to look after each other.”
Quintana, a New Yorker, described the February 3 attack to city leaders, Asian Americans and their supporters who attended the “Rise Up Against Anti-Asian Hate” rally in Foley Square on Saturday.
“Stop Asian hatred!” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told the audience. “This is the message we need to get out, not just in New York City, but everywhere in this country: Stop Asian hatred! Stop it now!”
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told spectators there were signs of a sharp rise in the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tragically, these warnings came true, and Asian American society throughout New York and the country has been the target of racial discrimination and harassment,” Schumer said.
New York City Attorney Letitia James urged individuals at the convention to report hate crimes to her office.
“Come to my office so we can report on these people who hate us so we can shut them down. Any attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” James said.
Pearl Sun, a New York City resident, attended the demonstration but did not speak to the audience. She told CNN that she is now careful when walking the city streets.
“I have to tell you I’m going out the door and I’m holding on, I’m preparing,” she said. “I make sure I no longer listen to music when I walk around. I no longer listen to podcasts … I want to make sure I am aware of what or what may be happening around me.”
“I think the rhetoric from our previous administration was certainly the catalyst for all this. Anti-Asian sentiment has always existed, and we’ve had a lot of legislation in the past that has not been good for us either: the Japanese internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
“It has been an ongoing situation, but the previous rhetoric has amplified all his hatred and called it the royal flu virus and the China virus, and unfortunately we are apparently an easy target.”
Sun said the rhetoric had intensified the hatred, especially in the case of older Asian Americans.
“They’re defenseless, and it’s cowardly, and it makes me angry, it makes me really angry,” Sun said.
City resident Will Lex Ham said many of his family live in fear and anxiety. He said Asian society does not receive resources relative to its people in the city, state and nation.
“We’re just tired. We’re tired of being sinned because of many of the problems of the pandemic. We’re tired of being ignored,” Ham said.
Reports of attacks increasing
The rally hosted the Asian American Federation, an umbrella organization that advocates for better policies and services for Asian Americans.
The union says there were “nearly 500 bias or hate crimes in 2020, ranging from verbal to physical assault, to being coughed up or spit on, to avoid, among other forms of discrimination.”
These figures were collected by the AAF, the law firm Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) Hate, NYPD and the NYC Commission on Human Rights, according to the AAF.
“However, this is a fraction of the actual number of incidents that have occurred as the majority of incidents are not reported. For example, over 90% of the reports collected by the AAF were not reported to either the NYPD or the NYC Commission of Human Rights., “The AAF said in a press release.