Chicago Asian Americans Grieve, Honor Atlanta Shooting Victims And Rally Against Anti-Asian Violence

Chicago Asian Americans Grieve, Honor Atlanta Shooting Victims And Rally Against Anti-Asian Violence

Hundreds gathered Friday evening at Horner Park on Chicago’s North Side to honor and collectively grieve the victims of last week’s mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia. Representatives from local Asian American organizations read poetry, played drums and spoke out against anti-Asian violence and racially-driven misogyny.

“We’re here to honor the women by naming and condemning that it’s the anti-Asian hate, it’s gender-based violence and white supremacy that led to the horrific killings of these lives,” said Inhe Choi, executive director of HANA Center, an immigrant justice group. “It’s not just an isolated incident that happened, but a long history in this country [and] across the world.”

AAPI rally sign
Several speakers urged attendees to check in on their Asian American friends. “I want you to text an Asian woman and ask them if they’re okay,” said Metropolitan Water District Commissioner Josina Morita. “Because right now we are not okay. And we feel very alone.” Katherine Nagasawa / WBEZ

Josina Morita, commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, is the first Asian American to be elected countywide in Cook County and chairs Illinois’ Asian American Caucus. Morita said Asian American political representation is particularly important during this moment.

“There is a saying that you are either at the table or on the menu. Asian Americans — especially the lives and bodies of Asian American women — have been on the menu for too long. We are here at the table. And us as Asian American electeds, we are here to help pull up a chair for everybody here.”

Morita encouraged people to support two state house bills currently on the table. One would extend hate crime protections based on immigration and citizenship status. Another, called the TEAACH Act, would require Asian American history to be taught in all Illinois high schools.

As the event came to an end, a group of Asian American women drummers played as people left flowers and offerings at an altar to the victims.

AAPI rally altar
People left flowers and offerings at an altar honoring the eight victims of the mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia. Katherine Nagasawa / WBEZ

The event, co-sponsored by dozens of local nonprofits, was part of a National Day of Action against anti-Asian hate and violence. There are additional rallies and memorials planned throughout the weekend in Chicago.

Katherine Nagasawa is WBEZ’s audience engagement producer. You can follow her @Kat_Nagasawa. Linda Lutton covers Chicago neighborhoods at WBEZ. Follow her @lindalutton.