A big crowd stood in support of the Asian American Pacific Islander community at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally at Jersey City City Hall that had appearances from leaders statewide.
“In America, hate has no home here, and in Jersey City … hate definitely does not have a home here!” Jersey City Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro, one of the event organizers, said at the rally – which drew a crowd of around 200 people.
Lavarro, along with Ward E Councilman James Solomon (who was among supporters today), sponsored a resolution condemning hate against the AAPI community last month, which was approved unanimously.
The Hoboken City Council sponsored and passed a similar resolution last week.
Chants heard throughout the rally included “Stop the Asian Violence! We are not a virus!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, white supremacy has got to go!”
Mayor Steven Fulop aide Vernon Richardson, the former chief of staff to late Ward D Councilman Michael Yun, recalled that prior to the Heights representative becoming ill from the coronavirus, he warned that New Jersey didn’t know what was going to hit them – also indicating this would lead to an uptick in “anti-Asian violence.”
Richardson was interrupted by a woman who demanded to know where Fulop was and he said he had a prior engagement.
As the event was still going, the mayor posted on Facebook that he was out of state for a family event that had been scheduled months in advance. Nonetheless, he thanked Lavarro and the non-profit events that made today possible.
“Our city is [a] microcosm of the entire country with our diversity and we stand as a strong example of a community that not only accepts our differences but embraces and appreciates our differences to make us a stronger city,” he wrote.
At the podium, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) stated that the AAPI community has been battling two pandemics over the past year, COVID-19 and hate, citing 4,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans since the onset of the public health emergency.
Despite the recent challenges, he pointed out that this trend is something Asian Americans are all too familiar with.
“Discrimination has actually been an undeniable and unfortunate part of the Asian immigrant experience for a long time. It wasn’t until 1943, after six decades of formal, legally sanctioned Chinese exclusion was ended in our country’s immigration policy,” Mukherji said.
He also denounced former President Donald Trump (R) for referring to the coronavirus as the “kung flu” and the “China virus,” which he said inevitably led to hate and violence being normalized, a sentiment echoed by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
Grewal also spoke about the historical significance of APPI communities and families again being under attack.
“I remember growing up in this state when those dotbusters were active, when Navroze Mody was killed not too far from here – when Asian elders were being targeted – how fearful people were to leave their homes or go to their temples or to live their lives,” the attorney general recalled.
“But what we saw then is what we’re seeing now. That we responded how we are today: by coming together and mobilizing.”
Grewal also said that members of the public should consider him an ally in this fight since he’s “not going to stand for” people being intimidated for who they are, vowing to use all the tolls at his office’s disposal to stand against hate.
Other dignitaries who spoke included ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, while others in attendance included Jersey City Council President Joyce Watterman, Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, and Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh.
A long clip of the rally streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: