UC Berkeley students and community members gathered Wednesday at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way in a show of solidarity against the recent spike of anti-Asian violence in the United States.
The rally was organized by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, which is a national organization committed to protecting civil rights and immigrant rights, according to organizer Hoku Jeffrey.
As people congregated for the rally, a series of speakers made opening remarks in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, community.
“Berkeley is supposed to be a sanctuary city,” said former mayoral candidate Aidan Hill at the event. “It’s supposed to be a place where we can all come together. What I’m here to do is to show you that there are people here who will fight for you.”
Attendee Sara Cordiano, who came across the rally while walking around with her friends and decided to join, said the recent attacks on AAPI individuals have made her emotional. Cordiano alleged that her peers often made light of the assaults and that she was happy to see so much support.
When the crowd reached about 45 people, the organizers led the rally down Bancroft Way, winding through several streets before returning to their original location.
As the group walked along the streets, they chanted and held signs denouncing hate towards AAPI individuals.
“What do we do when Asians and immigrants are attacked?” the organizers inquired while marching. Each time, the crowd replied, “Stand up. Fight back.”
According to Jeffrey, he was inspired to organize the rally to reject the racially divisive environment that he observed in the country.
Jeffrey alleged that the Trump administration has continually scapegoated the AAPI community as a way to redirect blame during the pandemic — a tactic it also employed against other marginalized communities.
“We say your blood is our blood,” Jeffrey said. “Black, Latino, immigrant, Asian, white — no matter what race or country you’re from, everybody deserves opportunity in this society.”