COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Cooperstown residents and community leaders rallied in the rain on Sunday in support of Asian Americans, as the number of hate crimes against the group has spiked.
“COVID has started to get people riled up," said Cate Bohler, a 9th-grader from Cooperstown and the organizer of the rally. "And it's making people lash out.”
Bohler was inspired to hold the event after the shooting in Atlanta in March which killed eight people, six of whom were Asian. Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased by 169% from this time last year, as characterizations of COVID-19 as the Chinese virus and other insensitive terms have trickled down to the personal level.
“There are sort of like under the breath kind of remarks where I'm like, you want to say them louder so somebody else can hear?" said Sallie Han, a professor of anthropology at SUNY Oneonta. "Or even just being made to feel sort of unwelcome.”
Han says we can all chip in to stop this rise in hateful rhetoric.
“The first thing is taking notice of our neighbors and our friends who are Asian and looking out for them," she says. "Checking in on them, and ourselves being aware that some of our neighbors and colleagues are going through a hard time. “
Overall, the message from the rally was clear.
“I want people to realize that Asia is a really big place, and that Asians exist everywhere," Bohler said. "And they're just people like everyone else. So there's no reason to hate them.”