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Stop Asian Hate

EVENTS | ACTIVISM

Stop Asian Hate:

People of New York

Take to The Streets to Protest

The Anti-Asian Hate Crimes.

On March 16, 2021, a 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long went into three different spas in the Atlanta area and murdered eight people with a gun. Six of them were Asian women. Hate crimes against Asian Americans are not new by any means, but anti-Asian sentiment rose precipitously after ex-president Donald Trump used a racially charged hashtag (#chinesevirus) and continued using anti-Asian rhetoric throughout the pandemic. Just a month after being acquitted in his second impeachment for inciting the Capitol Hill riot, his nation-dividing orange spirit lives on.  

On March 21, New Yorkers took to the streets demanding that anti-Asian hate crimes be stopped and that the Atlanta shootings be officially recognized as hate crimes. What further fueled the protesters’ anger was sheriff spokesperson Jay Baker’s statement that the shootings were based on the shooter’s supposed sex addiction (AKA fetish) and that the shooter was having a “bad day.”

A crowd of speakers and protesters assembled at Union Square, later moving on to Columbus Park in the heart of Chinatown. See what the protesters and the first Asian American NYC mayor hopeful Andrew Yang had to say below. 

Spica Wobbe & Uncle John

Spica Wobbe: This is something everybody should participate in. The violence, the hatred, and racism have been around in this country for too long. What happened in Georgia is just the tip of the iceberg. I think everybody should show their concern and should try to end it together as a community, as a society. This is too much, we cannot take this anymore. 

John Wobbe (Spica’s husband): We personally know people who have been attacked. A couple of months ago there was a woman whose face got punched in, she had to go through reconstructive surgery. 

Spica Wobbe: There is no reason for people to do that. I think that all of the hatred is coming from the wrong propaganda, the ideas. I think that we should change it by doing this [protesting] and education as well. We should teach our children and even adults that hate doesn’t make us grow, hate will only destroy us. We should change our attitude, have an open mind, and have our community as one, not separately. That’s the only way we can survive. 

Xuelin Zhong

I’m from China and I’ve been doing PHD research here for the past six years. Even before I came here I saw on the Chinese news about hate crimes and the suppression of Black people in the US. In the few years that I’ve lived here I’ve seen so much more hate crimes on the local and national news. Now it’s getting wilder and wilder and I think it’s time to stand together and try to make some change.

Michele Wong McSween & Family

Michele: I’m here because I have to stand up to this ongoing racism. I brought my family and I wanted to show them that we need to stand with other Asian Americans to fight for our rights and to show them that we have to band together to stop the community and nation from marginalizing us, taking advantage of us, from casting us aside and using us for whatever role they need us to be, whether we are the “model minority” or whether we are not a minority, because we didn’t need help because “all Asians are successful.” No, we cannot be whatever anybody wants us to be and I’m tired of it and I want my kids to see that there are all these people that feel the same way as us. We should not be feeling the same way anymore. I want them to be proud of their culture and I want them to see that everyone here is standing together and we are all unified in showing our pride and how we can come together to hopefully make a change. It’s long overdue. 

Stevie, Michele, Walker, Harry and Steve

SWK: Can you explain what the term “model minority” means and why it can be so toxic?

Michele: It’s just unfairly placed on us, where we are seen as high achieving, highly educated, we are respectful, we are polite, we do the right thing. There are so many Asians that don’t have the same resources. I think there’s 40% of Asians [25% is the actual number] living in poverty in New York City. What kind of model minority is that? They are suffering, they are struggling but yet nobody knows about them. They only know about Crazy Rich Asians, or other movies that portray Asians in a certain light. Granted there are some that are like that. I’m a fourth-generation Chinese-American, I was always taught “Just work hard, just do the right thing, don’t make a fuss, don’t rock the boat, keep your head down, just work hard, don’t draw attention to yourself.” Well I am tired of that and I don’t want my kids to feel that way, I want them to feel empowered to speak up. I want them to feel like they have every right to achieve whatever they want and no one can tell them otherwise. And I’m also very sick of not seeing Asians of being pushed in the heads of businesses and organizations. Our representation is abysmal. 

SWK (to Michele’s eldest son Walker): What is your opinion on what is currently happeningas someone from a young generation?

Walker: I’m thinking about mine and my brothers’ futures. I’m coming out here to support and create a more welcoming community for the youngsters. 

Vivian Sun (middle)

We just want to show support to our community and the Black community. This is a solidarity protest. I think it’s very meaningful that there is a dialogue and there is a conversation. It’s not a surprise that there has been some kind of bias and prejudice within our own community. There has always been a struggle to reconcile our differences. With Trump, he made everything so much worse, he almost pitted everyone against each other. I think there is a huge misunderstanding.

Every time we walk around we don’t feel that safe anymore, because people now feel okay to come up to us and tell us out loud, “Go back to China.” This is something that makes us very uncomfortable. We have been living here a long long time, we all are citizens. We don’t want people to judge us by our face. Racism has always been there and it’s getting so much worse, it’s so sad. There has been so much pain for Black people too since last year, since forever. It’s a huge problem and I think at least we should be united against white supremacy and against racism. 

Tommy Chung

What brings me here today is all the Asian hate crimes happening all over the country. I feel like we need to take a stand and we need to have our voices heard. We’ve been invisible for too long and that’s why I’m here with this movement [Stop Asian Hate] and in solidarity with the Black Lives movement. I see a lot of companies taking a lot of performative posts and it’s annoying on our end because we don’t see any change within your company but we see you posting all these Black and Asian Lives Matter posts. And it’s annoying. I’m fed up with it and I really wanna take a stand to that. I want people not only to just post but also decide to take action with their posts. 

Ran Bai

I just immigrated here two years ago. I really love America and its culture. I’m also one of the LGBT groups. I love this environment but honestly I really don’t buy this slogan, it just says “Stop Asian Hate.” I think it’s so weak, it’s like when someone bullies you and you just passively say “Stop.” I don’t really buy it. I really love the Black Lives Matter slogan – it gives people emotion to connect to. 

Last month it was a spring festival that’s really important for us Chinese. We were all supposed to sit down and have dinner but my roommate’s mom disappeared for the whole day. We were so worried about her, we weren’t just worried about where she went, we worried about her life. That’s our Asian mom, we all call her mom. It’s not about hate, because I can hate you, you can hate me, but we don’t do the crime. But now it’s not just about the hate, it’s about the hate crime. You can hate me, you can disagree with me, but you don’t slash me, you don’t bully me.

Every time I go out, I pass by the subway station, I get really scared. Now I have to dress myself like a punk or a jerk so that nobody thinks “she’s weak.” I need to look strong to protect myself. We are going to change this. We are going to stop the killings, we are going to stop Asian moms disappearing, we are going to stop Asian elders’ lives being threatened. 

I really don’t get why the United States became this. All the politicians always blame China. You always blame others! Also another slogan is “Racism is a virus, hate is a virus,” [scoffs] It’s so ridiculous because we got the vaccine right now. The vaccine doesn’t cure the virus, so who’s going to cure the racism and the hate? We don’t have a vaccine for that.

Some people say, “I’m an Asian American, I’m not Chinese,” you just bullshit! They always tell any Asian face, “You are Chinese, go back to China.” When they see an Asian face they think you are Chinese. They don’t know the difference. You try to protect yourself and your Asian face, but it doesn’t really matter if you are Chinese, Korean, or Japanese – it’s your face, your color. Don’t just separate yourself saying I’m not Chinese. Why not Chinese? We all could be Chinese. We are human and we all should be untied.

If someone slashes me I will slash back, if someone says fuck you I will fuck you back. It now needs to stop. I can fight back. It’s not about stopping something, it’s about fighting back.

Alina & Leon

I came from China, but my son was born in America. I saw the Atlanta news and it’s shocking for every Asian person. One time there was this person who threw a bottle of water at me and told me to go back to China. I made a decision for myself to bring my son today. I want to show all the people: stop hating Asians. My son is in school and the teacher would tell them about Black Lives Matter but I always told him that all lives matter. Before this, Black people died by police and this time Asian person died by the white person, and I heard that Atlanta’s police said something that’s not good for us Asians. He said that that guy had a bad day, no. On your bad day you can’t shoot anyone else. That’s why I took my son here to show him this. My son is a more silent person, so I told him, we don’t have to speak on things, we can just show up together with other people. 

Calvin Hunt & Richard Kirkpatrick

Calvin Hunt with son

Calvin: What brings us here today is gentrification. We are all God’s creatures, we are all created equal. So we just out here to support our brothers and sisters. We are all the same. All lives matter, Black Lives Matter, Asian lives matter, and we are here to support Asian community as human beings, as God’s creatures. It’s that simple.

Richard: We are just sick and tired of the hate. We are tired of the hate. Enough is enough. It comes in all colors, we are like a box of crayons – we come in different colors, it’s all about love not hate. 

Richard (right)

Romey & Lolenzo

Romey: I’m Asian so I wanted to stand up for this cause. I want to bring awareness to anti-Asian crimes that have been rising up so far. 

Lolenzo: I’m Black and Latino, I came here to support him. He’s my boyfriend. We go through the same discrimination as well, so it’s only right for me to come and support my partner. 

Cassandra Schriffen & Irene Ippolito

Cassandra: I’m a teacher in NYC and I’ve been teaching in NYC for about 50 years and I am here because 40 years ago when I was teaching in Manhattan on an integration transfer, the Asian students in my school fought for my right to teach in Manhattan. So I am here today to support their right to walk. 

My hope is that we don’t see each other’s color, that we just see each other’s heart and that we can all live in peace in our beautiful city.

Irene: I’m here just to show solidarity with the other people that are standing out here today against hate and ignorance. Our country is gotta do better. We are stronger because of our diversity and we just have to stand up and say, “We are stronger together, we need each other, we need to go forward together, we are all American, we are all human beings and this hatred and this ignorance is just unacceptable.”

I think we have to have hope. The young people give me hope, the younger generation gives me hope. I’ve seen so many young activists that are really taking a lead and I hope the younger generation has their heads in tighter.

SWK: Why do you think the younger generation is so active in protesting and speaking out against what’s wrong?

Irene: That’s a good question. I don’t know if part of it is social media maybe, because they grew up with more diversity than the older generation. Maybe that has a lot to do with it, but I’ve just been blown away with the younger generation that I’ve been talking to and I am here to support them. 

Kim

I’ve been hearing in the recent news that older Asians are being attacked and the hate against Asian Americans is getting out of control. I feel like I really had to come here today to say something. I had to spread the message about not just keeping our heads down, but fighting back. It is really important especially if our life is threatened and our elders are being attacked. We have to stand together and fight back against this type of attack. It’s just not acceptable.

I’m from Seoul, South Korea. I came here when I was 10 years old so I’ve lived here for more than 25 years. I grew up in Virginia, I did experience racism in high school. A bunch of C words thrown in my face, “Chink go back to China.” I moved to New York almost 3 years ago. I really love the diversity here, but it’s just so sad that those racist attacks are happening. I think it’s important no matter what color you are to unite and fight back.

What’s shameful and scary is that the police officer was defending the offender saying he had a “bad day.” It was also later revealed that that police officer posted a racist shirt on his Twitter. How crazy is this? How can we trust law officials that have to protect their citizens? 

Linda & Ginger

Ginger: We are here in support of fighting and ending racism and in the wake of all the increase of Asian-American violence. It really just moved us to be here and try to make a difference and try to encourage change in the society. 

Linda: I think these crimes really hit home these recent past weeks just because things are happening in Chinatown where we feel like we belong and where our parents came to feel like they belong. And now there are basically predators out there going against us, killing us. We are here for any type of racism, not just anti-Asian crimes, any racist crimes. 

Andrew Yang

Hello, New York City. How beautiful are we? This truly is the most incredible assemblage of beautiful Asian and Black and brown and white human beings I have seen in quite some time. First, let’s give another round of applause to my soulmate, my rock, the true rock star in our family, my wife Evelyn. Many of you know that Evelyn herself was the victim of sexual assaults by her doctor and I found that out a number of years ago and it ate me up. I felt like I failed her as a husband and she went through it for a period alone. And then we shared it as a family and then years later she had an opportunity to potentially share that pain, her story, with the world.

And as her husband, I was just awestruck by the courage for her to even consider that. Consider something so deeply personal and I wanted to be supportive at every stage as her husband. I said, “Baby like whatever you want to do. I’m a hundred percent behind you.” But I will let you all know in my heart of hearts. I wanted to get that fucking guy really bad.

After my incredible wife came forward, another 40 women came forward and that doctor now is up on federal charges and he’ll never hurt another woman ever again. So that story unfortunately is something of a precursor to what our community has experienced over the last number of days and the last number of weeks and months. It has been staggering to see the racism against our community morph and metastasize into something dark and virulent and increasingly dangerous. I remember when I first felt it, it was a little more than a year ago today you all probably remember it too, remember that first time when you actually got that extra glance, glare, animosity, on the streets here in New York, raise your hand if you remember that. Oh, we all remember that don’t we?

First you’re thinking, “Okay. Maybe that was just that one person. Maybe it was just in my head.” But then you kept experiencing it and then you’re like, “No this is not in my head.” And then the first time you saw on video an elderly Asian woman shoved brutally to the ground or someone spat on or someone punched or beaten. Then you thought to yourself, “This is real.” Raise your hand if you remember that too. Oh, we all remember that. We all remember that and we hoped in our hearts that it would stay at that level, that it would stay, just the spitting and dehumanization, on that level. But we feared that this day would come, we feared that some of our people would be shot for no other reason than their race. And unfortunately that is exactly what occurred last week in Atlanta. And I’ve said to anyone who would listen, it is madness to question a 21-year-old lunatic as to his motivations when we can see clear as day that this was a hate crime, am I right New York City?

Everyone who is Asian American knows that these women were targeted on the basis of their race, that if you go to an Asian-owned business in an Asian community and you open the door, you know exactly who you’re going to find, you know, exactly who you’re going to murder in this case. And as Evelyn said, we spent weeks in Atlanta, Georgia, making the case among the Asian-American community, that we needed to invest in our future, that we needed to get out and vote.

Andrew Yang with wife Evelyn Yang

And so it was deeply personal seeing these women’s stories. I actually imagine, as I know Evelyn did, like was there a chance that we met them when we were out among the community knocking on doors, speaking in plazas? The Asian-American community in Atlanta, if you have not been, it is amazing. I was blown away. I went down to Atlanta trying to make the case for Reverend Warnock and Jon Ossoff who won and got Chuck Schumer to become Senate Majority Leader. And as Evelyn said, the entire country has many people to thank for that, but among them it is the Asian-American voters of the state of Georgia, Asian Americans are 4.7% of the vote there. Do you think that did not make a difference in an election where there was a one percent margin and Asian Americans went two to one for the Democrats? 

Protester: You did the math.

[Crowd Laughs]

Andrew Yang: I did do the math. It’s true. So spending time in Atlanta and then seeing the racism against our community become this murderous, this dark, has been very painful for all of us. It’s been devastating and heartbreaking for so many of us.

And the question is, are we going to make this mean something to our families, our community and the country? Are we going to make these women’s lives and passings mean something? Are we going to make them mean something, New York City?

We need to take this opportunity to let people know that Asian Americans are here to stay, Asian Americans are just as American as everyone else. Asian Americans are just as human as everyone else.

And I do remember vividly growing up, son of immigrants here in New York State and feeling like my Americanness was being challenged at every turn – there weren’t many of us on TV. I remember I would bug my parents every time Connie Chung came on TV until eventually I got tired of it. And I want to give another shout-out to some of the Asian-American artists and creatives and creators who are here today, and we’re making the case all over the country.

When I ran for president, some of the first people that gave me the time of day, the Fung Brothers, who were right there. We know that their parents were not that excited about their career choices. The Asian-American comedians you know what I mean, it’s probably somewhere with running for office.

So we need to get behind and support our Asian-American artists and creatives as they tell their stories and ours. Am I right? That is actually part of the process of dehumanization, that is a part of the process of people seeing that we have souls, hopes, dreams, fears, struggles. We may not wear them the same way other folks do, but we have them nonetheless.

There were a number of reasons I decided to run for president, but I will confess to you all, there was one day, there were several, but one of them was that I thought I had an opportunity to make that presidential debate stage and I thought about what having an Asian-American face on that stage would mean to our community.

And then I said, you know, like that would have been a game-changer for me as a young person, as a child, seeing someone [like me] on that stage. And I didn’t just make that stage once – I made that stage seven times, beating out governors, senators, members of Congress, and our current mayor. And I did this in part to demonstrate that there are no limits to what Asian Americans can do in this country, that we are not meant to be relegated to some particular role that has been prescribed, that we can lead, we can dream.

We can help this country make sense of what is happening to it and help bring people together. When I was in Atlanta, I had the privilege of visiting Martin Luther King’s childhood home as well as the King Center with Martin Luther King’s son Martin III, and I do want to give a special shout-out also to our Black brothers and sisters who are here today and expressing solidarity with our community. We are so grateful in part because Asians are not used to people sticking up for us. Thank you.

But standing on the front stoop of Dr. King’s childhood home with his son, as he looked out at the view that he woke up to every day as a child, and his son said to me, “On the left you can see there are very affluent houses and on the right you can see that there are people who are struggling,” and Martin Luther King III said, “This is the view that inspired my father to try and address what he saw as the three evils of our time: racism, poverty, and war.” And when I ran for president on universal basic income I was the first person to say, “This is not my idea, this is an idea that Martin Luther King put forward in his 1967 book Chaos or Community.” He said we need to help humanize an economy that is turning on more and more people; it was not my idea at all. It was Dr. King’s idea.

I’m so indebted to the Black community for so much of what has happened over these last couple of years. Dr. King and his family, their vision for whatever reason has lain dormant over the last number of years and I say to folks in the Black community, “I believe we have sanitized Dr. King’s memory.” We celebrate his birthday every year and what do we see on TV and hear on the radio? “I have a dream, I have a dream. We’re going to climb the mountaintop together.” And that gives us the mistaken sense that his dream has been realized, does it not? Is it not that, “Oh he had a dream and here we are on the other side,” but Black people know better, Asian Americans know better. We all know that Dr. King’s dream has not been realized at all. And that is going to be the work of everyone here and everyone around the country to help push our society forward to a point where we recognize everyone’s intrinsic worth as a human being, as a mother, as a father, as someone who just wants to create a better life for themselves and their families. Just like the people who were killed in Atlanta wanted for themselves. 

I know what I saw when I met with these people, most of them had just come to Atlanta over the last number of years and they came with better hopes for themselves and their families and to see their lives snuffed out.

[Gets emotional]

So one question I’d have for us all is, what now? What are we going to do? No, we’re heartbroken. We’re angry. We want people to sense our pain, our presence, their frustration. We feel that our problems have been suppressed for so long and that we’ve been told that we don’t have it the same as other groups, just to accept our place in American life, but that’s not us at all. Is it, New York City? We are people of action, are we not? So I’m going to suggest a few things that I’m going to do as the next mayor of the greatest city in the world.

One of the first things I’m going to do is I’m going to fully fund the Asian hate crimes task force in the police. It is not an issue that you can have volunteers addressing. If crime against the community goes up 900%. You don’t say, “Oh well, let volunteers take care of that,” you dedicate resources until that problem feels like it is going down, not up.

The second thing we need to do is call a hate crime a hate crime, when a woman gets shoved to the ground in front of us all in Flushing and is disfigured. That’s a hate crime. When a man gets slashed on the subway because someone doesn’t like the look on his face. That’s a hate crime.When a woman gets acid thrown in her face in her face in Manhattan for no discernible reason, that is a hate crime. And it’s only by calling out these crimes as such that we can raise the proper level of attention and frankly prosecute them the way that they deserve, to send a message that there is no room for hate in New York City.

And the third thing we have to do is build bonds and connections with the Asian-American community here in New York, because we know you know that for every incident we’re hearing about there are two, three, five others that we will never hear about. You know that an Asian American who’s been punched, stabbed, beaten, stabbed will probably know about, but punched, spit on, and other things, is likely never to tell anyone and we have to change that. We have to start building bonds of connection with the Asian-American community to let them know that this city is their city, is ours, and I’m going to suggest to you all that one great way to do that is by electing the first Asian-American mayor in the history of New York City.

Because you know I’ll take it seriously. But these are things that frankly we can do at the public level, in this event today, is not about the public level. It’s about us each individually as human beings. And so what can we do? What we can do, and I’m going to take a page from my friend Jumaane Williams who I’ve been speaking alongside over this last number of days, what he says is, “Look, this starts with us individually. We have to take it upon ourselves to try to greet someone that we see every day that we would not have greeted otherwise,” and often those are people that are going to be unseen, that are going to seem invisible and you might surprise them initially, but over time they will start to see you as a human being that cares about them. They will start seeing themselves as human if we start to acknowledge each other and our own humanity, then we can expand what it means to be part of a community. Will you all come into greeting at least one person every day that you might not have greeted otherwise?

We can expand the sense of fellowship to include folks who right now might look different than us and might not think that they are the same but we are the same. This is one of the lessons I got from visiting. Dr. King’s birthplace.

Well then the other thing I’m going to ask of you all is this, and this is something that I had some experience with. This is the story that Noel Quintana told when he was on the New York subway. He said that he was having a dispute with this person and that it started to elevate and then eventually this person took out a box cutter and slashed his face and you’ve all seen the picture, you all know what happened to Noel, and Noel said with tears in his eyes, in an event not that different from this one, event that that was held a couple of weeks ago in Foley Square, not that far from here. Some of you were there, raise your hand if you were there. And so if you were there you remember what he said, he said with tears in his eyes, he said that there were people around and no one did anything. He said if someone even had just taken a video, then maybe we would actually have apprehended this person who right now is still free and walking the streets of New York City.

Now I’ve had some experience with this. I was in a situation where something was happening nearby me and there is not really like time to think when you’re in that situation. Like I’m not going to pretend like some people are somehow going to make different decisions, but I will say that the commitment we all have to make, this is the best way for us truly to make each other safer, is that when something is happening around you, you have to do something. I want you to reflect on this, New York City. I want you to reflect on what it’s going to feel like when you are a witness to something happening. Are you going to be the person that lets it happen or are you going to be the person that does something?

Noel Quintana has been asking that question. And that is the second commitment I’m going to ask of you all, New York City. If you see something, you have to do something – and if you do something you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror when you get home at night and say I did everything I could to help that person.

And if you say that and you act on that and you make that commitment, then we have a real chance to rebuild from this to reshape our community, to let people know that we all have so much more in common than what divides us, that we are all human beings and that Asian Americans should feel as safe walking down the streets of New York City as anyone else in this city. We are just as New York as anyone else, we need to act on that. We need to gather together in events like this, but we need to vote. We need to make our voices heard, and if something is happening in our vicinity that we can do something about, we’re damn well gonna do something about it. Am I right New York? So let’s help each other, let’s care about each other, and rebuild our community, which will include everybody together. Thank you all so much. I love you, New York City.

Alexey Kim

Founder

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Activisim Events Timeline

We Need to Talk About Belarus

We Need to Talk About Belarus

EVENTS | ACTIVISM

Because it might be a cautionary tale for the upcoming US elections.


Saturday, August 16, 2020. A few hundred people dressed in white and red colors assembled in front of the United Nations in New York City to show solidarity with Belarus in the light of currently unfolding events.

The long-term president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator,” has rigged the recent election results in his own favor. Two of the main opponents to his 26-year dictatorial reign were jailed before the elections, and one was refused registration as a candidate by the Belarusian electoral commission. Just when Lukashenko thought he had the election in his pocket due to the lack of opponents, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the wife of a jailed blogger who was a presidential ticket hopeful, entered the race, vowing to pick up where her husband left off. While the failing economy and the lackluster response to the coronavirus pandemic by the government left Belarusian citizens yearning for change, unlikely candidate Tsikhanouskaya found major support and was expected to win the elections.

Tens of thousands of peaceful protesters took to the streets of Belarus just to be met with the brutal force of Belarusian greatly feared OMON (Special Purpose Mobile Unit). Almost 7,000 people have been jailed, mercilessly beaten, and tortured while in custody, at least 50 of them journalists. Meanwhile, in New York, a few people showed up to the UN demonstrations covered in fake blood to shine the spotlight on the horrifying human rights violations transpiring in Belarus at the present moment. One of the protesters described in horror how a female acquaintance of his in Belarus was held in custody for six hours on her knees, head on the floor with her hands handcuffed behind her back. Arrested protesters in Belarus are not allowed medical care, water, food or toilet privileges.

Right after the elections, Tsikhaunouskaya fled to Lithuania, citing pressure from Lukashenko’s regime as the reason for the escape. Eight people from her staff have been arrested over the weekend.

It’s difficult not to draw parallels between the current situation in Belarus with the widespread US Black Lives Matter protests and Trump’s attempt to keep his seat by threatening to postpone November elections and sabotaging the US Postal Service. Malfeasance in office is more common than not, even in developed countries. But it’s much easier to get away with abuse of power among economies in transition and in developing parts of the world. Lukashenko’s presidency, which has been riddled with a history of falsified elections, is a prime example. Trump’s internet censorship order and Lukashenko’s attempt to stop dissidence by pulling the plug on internet and mobile services across Belarus are telling facts that the fast-paced spread of information through modern communication methods can be a tyrant’s Achilles heel.

“I want Lukashenko gone. His time is up. 26 years is enough. That’s an entire generation. I was born, he was a president, he’s still a president. He lost the election, he has to go and he has to pay the price for the atrocities he’s been committing. The people around him, the secret service/police that have been committing crimes should also pay the price, there should be a fair trial and those people should be held responsible, that’s what we are looking for,”

says Pavel, one of the attendees at the New York rally, who is originally from Minsk, Belarus’ capital.

Amongst the sea of posters at the New York protest near the UN, one sign stood out with an understatedly written hashtag. Leo, an ex-Chechen citizen living under US asylum, wrote a message on a white placard that read “No One is Free Until We Are All Free,” with the hashtag #lgbtchechnya written in smaller letters just under the main message.

“We are all from Soviet Union,”

Leo said, teary eyed,

“And today we see how hard it is to get freedom for all of us, and that means we all need to support one another. We can’t face this alone. We understand the people of Belarus very well, because the same thing has been happening in Chechnya for many years. That’s why they need to be supported today.”

A recently released HBO documentary, Welcome to Chechnya by Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker David France, reminds us why the Chechen’s genocide of its LGBT community should be one of the world’s most urgent conversations.

Politics all over the world is more connected than it might seem at first glance. Just because things like this are happening across the pond, doesn’t mean that they should be ignored and not talked about, because if we are silent about oppression of others we may be the next ones in line with no one to support our own claim.

Leo

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Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Activisim Events Pride Timeline

This Is The Future Queer Liberation Protesters Are Fighting For

EVENTS | ACTIVISM

NYC Queer Liberation March

“It’s 2020, and we are still dealing with issues that we’ve been dealing with for hundreds of years. It’s ridiculous. This needs to end now.”

On June 28, 2020 instead of celebrating the annual Pride Parade in the usual way – with barricaded streets, company-sponsored floats, and police convoys – the people of New York took to the streets to protest police brutality and walk for Black and Black Trans Lives.

Sidewalkkilla was commissioned by BuzzFeed LGBTQ to interview NYC’s Queer Liberation March protesters on their hopes for the future. Find out what brings people out on the streets day after day.

Special thanks to Angel OrtÍz-Perreira for assisting with the project.

Katie Rose Summerfield

Bones Jones

Daniel Nieto

Rollerena

J. Alexander

Gabriella Rosa Morales

Ty Sunderland

Glow Job

Terence, Samy, Luis

Iman Le Caire

Cory Walker

Justin, Onika, Emilie, Spencer, Luke, Jordan

Angel Ortíz-Perreira

Jonas Bardin

Andy Jean

Steven the Neptunite

Sugar B.

& Jen Cinclair

Madelyn Keith &

Graham D’Craquer

Xander Gaines

Joel Riviera

Katie Rose Summerfield

What brings you out here today?

I am an artist and a human in the world who cares about the humanity of all people. I think it’s essential that we show up for our brothers and sisters who have not been treated with any fairness, kindness, justice, or humanity for hundreds of years. And it’s time that we all be accomplices in the fight for abolition of white supremacy, racism, the police brutality and inequality across everything.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes for the future are that everybody in the world, everybody in America, feels safe to live in the body as they are, to be exactly who they are, to be loved tirelessly and fearlessly, and for everyone to feel safe.

Bones Jones

What brings you out here today?

I am here today at the Queer Liberation March to liberate humanity, honestly. People of the LGBTQIA+ community are the backbone of how culture moves in this country. So I am here to support humanity in this outfit, have a good time, and support those who need support.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that all people have the same rights, the same opportunities, the same abilities. We’ve seen what happens year after year after year when it comes to these things. It gets us nowhere to just oppress one group of people, so my hope and my wish is that we all just get the equal rights, equal opportunities, and just live in peace. Celebrate in peace, love in peace, have sex in peace.

Daniel Nieto

What brings you out here today?

I am here to fight for freedom, equalities for everybody. Black lives matter, trans lives matter, gay lives matter.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is for everyone to be treated equally, with respect, and to have equal freedom and opportunities in this country and everywhere else in the world.

Rollerena

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is the blue wave on election day, that everybody gets out there and votes. Votes with their conscience and gets this horrible regime out of office.

J. Alexander (right)

What brings you out here today?

I’m here for Pride, I’m here for Black liberation. I’m here to take a stand with all the people that are here today.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope is that when these people go home, they actually do work, and they educate themselves about decolonizing the mind; they have the hard conversation with their racist aunts. I hope that they speak up for people of color — especially Black people — in these safe white spaces. I hope that the work goes beyond the streets and that we see actual change.

Gabriella Rosa Morales

What brings you out here today?

I’m an Afro Latina, bisexual woman, and I’m tired of the bullshit that’s going on. Honestly, it’s time for change and this is what needs to be happening and nobody is listening to us, so we are going to make them listen. So we are going to keep fighting every day until they listen to us, until we get what we need.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that they defund the police, that they treat every citizen the way they need to be treated and that fucking capitalism changes. White supremacy needs to be out of this country. It’s 2020, and we are still dealing with issues that we’ve been dealing with for hundreds of years. It’s ridiculous. This needs to end now.

Ty Sunderland (right) & friends

What brings you out here today?

We are marching here for our liberation. We are not free until our entire community is free. Right now we have to be out here marching for Black lives and Black trans lives.

What are your hopes for the future?

A future where we are all free, we are all safe, where we all have equal opportunity, equal rights, and equal access to resources.

What brings you out here today?

I am here today, because it’s the Queer Liberation March; it is Pride.

We need to show up; we need to show out. We need to be here for Black lives, for Black trans lives. This feels like, what I imagine maybe, the first Pride was like. It was a freaking protest; it was a riot. And so we are here to make a difference.

What are your hopes for the future?

I feel like things are actually changing for once. I think people are stopping to think… I think they have been disrupted from the system. I want the police to be defunded. I want Black trans people to be respected. I want joy to come back to everyone’s life. That’s why we’re here doing this.

What brings you out here today?

Terence: What brought me here today was trans rights, Black Lives Matter. An equality for all of us — we are marching together to be with all my sisters and brothers and nonbinary folks.

Luis: I am here with my friends and my community. This is our family. Until all of us are liberated, every single person in our community is liberated — trans, Black, queer, nonbinary, Latino people — the queer community will not stop until all of us are fully equal.

Samy: I’m here because this is the real Pride. It started 51 years ago with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson — a riot against police brutality — and we are still criminalized and oppressed by the state and the police forces. So we need to continue organizing, running for office, voting, and getting engaged with our community to actually fight for change, including social justice and a [city] budget that really helps our community. So we are honoring that life and that spirit of resistance. This is what this march is — to bring that rioting spirit to actually fight for equal justice.

Terence: And the rights for sex workers, which we can’t forget, because the root people that led the riots and the march were Black and trans sex workers.

What are your hopes for the future?

Samy: Well, I really hope that we don’t have to fight against the state and discrimination, that we live in the society that honestly honors our lives, that we have full respect and we have full equality and justice. And that starts with the Equality Act, but we need so much more.

Legal marriage equality [happened], but that just got us the right to love. Now we need the right so we can walk in the streets without violence and being murdered, so the moment that no Black trans women are being killed in the streets, when people are not discriminated at work, when all the eradication of discrimination happens. That’s why we are truly here; that’s why we are marching. We are not only celebrating that we could march because of the history of our movement, but because there is so much work to be done.

Luis: And of course we hope that the city council of New York defunds the NYPD, defunds the military state in our city and starts funding the real needs of our communities, starts funding education, starts funding housing, starts funding healthcare for people in our community. Because that’s where we really want our tax dollars to be devoted to and not to police violence, not to state violence. I really hope that our state officials, our city and our local elected officials react and respond to the clamor that we are all expressing today.

Terence: My hope for the future is that I won’t have to be out on the streets saying “Trans Lives Matter”; I won’t have to be out on the streets saying “Black Lives Matter”; I won’t have to be on the streets saying “Black Trans Lives Matter.” It’s beautiful that we are saying those, but the reason that we are out here saying those is because we are continuously killed and there is no justice and we have to keep fighting and protesting. I’m hoping for the future that we no longer have to be out on the streets fighting against the state and state will side with us, and they will give us protection. So that Black trans girls will have protection, Black people will have protection, we want to fight against people that are killing us.

Samy: This is just the city’s Pride as Black Lives Matter rally, because the most important, impacted members of our LGBTQ community are the LGBTQ people of color: Black trans women, Latinx, undocumented queer immigrants. And it is a movement of solidarity. Fighting for racial justice is to fight for queer rights; fighting for queer rights is fighting for racial justice. So we are not only standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, we also have Black queer lives, we also have immigrant Latinx queer lives and people of color. So this is a movement of solidarity, but we are both because our struggles are very interconnected. That’s why this Pride, this Queer March is so powerful, because it combines the intersectional lives and identities that we all live and they have been oppressed for so long and this is the moment for liberation.

Luis: And at the end, us browns and Black people, we are also protesting against the mainstream LGBTQ community who has for so long discriminated against us, discriminated against our most vulnerable members. And we are saying today: This is the Pride that we want; this is the Pride that we celebrate and nothing from now on in the future will be less.

Terence: No more.

Iman Le Caire

What brings you out here today?

My hope for the future for the Black trans sisters and Black trans brothers, for all brown people and refugees to have jobs and to be walking the streets without getting hurt and killed. I’m tired of it. I’ve been harassed since being 8 years old and I’m sick of it.

What are your hopes for the future?

So I just want to be safe and have opportunities like everybody else. Is that too much to ask? No I don’t think so, so I hope for the future and especially for trans youth to have a better future than I ever had. Hopefully that’s going to happen. I feel optimistic for the future, especially now that we all came together. Hopefully something is going to happen.

And I feel Trump is going to go away.

Cory Walker

What brings you out here today?

I am out here celebrating Black and brown trans lives and just witnessing a revolution.

It’s been a beautiful way to emerge back into the new world and to be in New York City is such a blessing. Because this is kind of where that kind of liberation began: going to Stonewall and just feeling that energy. I feel like the ancestors are really here. I’m taking it moment by moment; it’s really a lot to digest, but it’s everything we’ve been asking for, so. I think this is our time.

What are your hopes for the future?

Oh, so many. I would say for everyone, every being who enters this plane, this earth, this physical experience, to know that there is so much worthiness and rightness in their existence.

I would love for kids to be born knowing that there is a reason that they are here and that they have the power, that their evolution and their natural flow is going to look so specific for them and that’s beautiful. And I want the people who maybe didn’t have that, who are kind of learning that about themselves now, I want them to heal and be graceful knowing that they always did and survived the best way they knew how.

And for people to just have more empathy and compassion and to really see each other again more, maybe for the first time. We are all kind of seeing ourselves for the first time. I think we are all being initiated into ourselves. So, my hope for the future, my hope for now really, just to continue celebration.

Justin, Onika, Emilie, Spencer, Luke, Jordan

Please, tell us what brings you out here today.

Justin: Celebrating our Pride, celebrating identities and Black trans lives.

Spencer: Our identities, our brothers, our sisters, everybody in between who just wants to be themselves.

Justin: It’s been really cool. These last few weeks people have been really showing up for each other in a beautiful way, and I feel like I am responsible to be a part of that.

Jordan: Also standing up against police brutality that’s been going on in this country since literally we began and just saying enough is enough. We are done. It needs to be scrapped, and we need to rebuild.

Spencer: As much as COVID sucks, I feel like it’s been a wake-up call that America needs to motivate and take action against police brutality and everything that’s been happening negatively toward our country to move forward.

What are your hopes for the future?

Justin: That we can all just fucking love each other.

Jordan: Yeah, and be able to live without being afraid of literally being killed.

Spencer: Love each other.

Emilie: Respect each other too.

Spencer: Respect each other in a world that’s built out of love, respect and compassion, and not negativity.

Angel Ortíz-Perreira

What brings you out here today?

I am out here today for Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is for us to understand one another even whether we don’t agree with one another or not. I think finding that common ground of understanding and having those dialogues — that’s the future that we get to have. It really feels like there is an awakening happening in New York, in the world, in every major city. And it’s lovely to be out, even though today is limited in scope.

Jonas Bardin

What brings you out here today?

I am here today in support of, particularly, Black trans community as they continue to be marginalized and oppressed throughout this country. And I am here to also remind fellow white people, that this is the work that we need to be focusing on specifically in this moment.

And when we think of Pride, we need to be focalizing Black trans women specifically in our politics and in our minds when we are protesting moving forward.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes for the future are dismantling white supremacy and ending capitalism in this country. My hopes are that right now people can find a moment of peace and joy with their friends, maybe even just alone if they are alone today.

These are tumultuous times, but change is never something that is slow and that feels comfortable, so I take it as a good sign.

Qween Jean (left)

What brings you out here today?

I am here today for Black trans liberation, not only today, but each and every day. Moving forward, so that these folks, honey, [cops] are fucking abolished. Thank you. That’s why I’m here.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that no more Black and brown trans people have to be subjected to violence, that they have to be killed and that they could actually be free, fully, beautifully. That is my dream.

Steven the Neptunite

What brings you out here today?

I am here in celebration of not only Pride, but I’m also here for Black Lives Matter, because we celebrate Pride, but too often so many people get left out of this movement.

I believe that by combining BLM with LGBTQ+ Pride we can actually bend together and learn intersectionality and learn that we have a common oppressor. This builds a lot of strength to see people of color and queer people of color here as well as white people.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that we get to dress and look however we want and identify however we want and not have to deal with the threatening looks, not have to deal with the shit talk, not have to deal with the potential violence threats and the death threats. That is my hope for the future.

And my hope for the future is also, for us queer people of color to work within ourselves as well, because there is a lot of self-hate among our community; it’s not just our common oppressor. It’s gotten to the point where we teach this shit to ourselves and we need to fix that.

One of my hopes for the future is for us to stand in harmony and as one, like we should have a long time ago.

Sugar B. & Jen Cinclair

What brings you out here today?

Jen: I am here with one of my besties whom I met at the Imperial Court of New York. She happens to be the first Black biological woman empress of the Imperial Court of New York. She’s fucking amazing, and we marched with our court friends today.

Sugar: I am, like Jen said, one of the first biological women of color, for a cis woman to reign with the Imperial Court of New York. We are a fundraising organization that mostly comprised drag queens, drag kings. We cater to the LGBTQ+ community. We raise money for a lot of organizations. My emperor was actually working at Stonewall when the riots happened. So we are considered the Stonewall monarchs of the Imperial Court of New York.

What are your hopes for the future?

Jen: No regressions. At least keep the rights that we have right now and move forward. No regressions at least step 1, and steps 2 through 50…so many fucking things.

Sugar: I have a basic theory: If you take care of yourself, in turn you take care of other people. Wear your masks; stay inside; don’t believe that you are better than anyone; don’t believe that you are not immune to what’s going on. There is a lot of people out here today, but you cannot cancel Pride. Pride is something that we do. But in the same spirit, stay safe. And if you can and when you can stay home… And I hope to hug someone very shortly. Oh my god I miss it. I miss hugging and kissing and loving people — it’s the most amazing thing.

Graham D’Craquer & Madelyn Keith

What brings you out here today?

Madelyn: My name is Madelyn Keith. I am empress 34 of the Imperial Court of New York.

Graham: And I am Graham D’Craquer, and I am member 29 of the Imperial Court of New York. And we are husbands in real life. So the Imperial Court of New York is a 501c3 charity organization that raises money for LGBTQ+ organizations, and we do it through events. And we figured since there is no Pride parade today, we’d just walk around, spread a little joy, spread a little cheer.

Madelyn: Imperial Court is 35 years old, and we are the producers of Night of the 1000 Gowns, which takes place in the spring. This year, our coronation was canceled due to the coronavirus, but we wanted to come out; we wanted to say hello; we wanted to show people we are here, we are proud, and that we love everybody.

Graham: Absolutely.

What are your hopes for the future?

Madelyn: First, I’d love to see everybody get through this, so we could get back to doing what we do: fundraising and charity, visiting people in hospice, and just bringing a little light to people.

Xander Gaines

What brings you out here today?

It’s Pride. It’s New York. I wanna see my family, my friends, my sisters, and although I can’t be with them the way I normally am, I could be among them so I’m out.

What are your hopes for the future?

A future. That’s my hope. Just having a future.

Joela-Abiona Rivera

What brings you out here today?

I’m 19 now, and I still got a high school education. I’m in college right now, and I’ve been an active member of the Black Lives movement since the day I was born and now I’m here.

I do a protest at Stonewall every Thursday. [And] now what I’m currently doing is stopping traffic, because I know when the Pride parades that are led by white people, when they organize they stop the streets. But when it’s for Black people, they let the traffic go. They try to dismantle us. So that’s why I’m here; it only takes one person.

I feel like the people here — they don’t want to join in, that’s fine. A lot of people are pussies, I can’t help that. So I’m here just doing that, doing my part, causing chaos, because like I said, I’m not peaceful; I’m not violent. I say I’m not peaceful, because I am here to cause noise, to cause chaos. I’m here to wake people up.

But I’m not violent, because the police are violent. People that hate in their hearts are violent. I don’t have hate in my heart, so I’m not violent.

What are your hopes for the future?

I guess it’s kind of cliché: I hope for equality. I hope that if I was to go on a train just like this, I wouldn’t face any harassment. I hope that there is a new system that doesn’t see the color of your skin but sees the content of your character. That’s what Martin Luther King said.

I hope that every single person in the world, now that’s crazy, but I hope that every single person in the world finds love in their heart. If you have love, it doesn’t matter your sexuality, your gender identity, your skin color, because you will just love everybody. And honestly, I take it back when I said it was a stretch. It should not be a stretch to be able to love everyone, but some people just make it so difficult.

Alexey Kim

Founder