Uptown faith community rallies against uptick in anti-Asian hate

Chicago News

CHICAGO – Dozens of people of different faiths and churches gathered in Uptown Sunday to denounce hate against Asian-Americans.

May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. But many Asians say they often feel like perpetual outsiders. 

“We’re not others. We’re not foreigners. We’re here as fellow Americans.” 

Saturday night in Logan Square, a man driving a pickup truck struck an Asian woman with his vehicle. Police say she was hanging out on the boulevard with friends when the driver yelled an Asian slur. The man behind the wheel then “drove up onto the grass,” according to police. The woman struck is OK and has been released from the hospital. Chicago police say they are not calling it a hate crime at this time. The investigation is ongoing, however.

According to a national report released in March, nearly 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian attacks were reported during the pandemic. 

Illinois reported 92 attacks against Asians, ranking 7th in the country. 

State Sen. Mike Simmons, of the 7th District, says reading about racially motivated incidents is heartbreaking. “I feel like we’re going backward.” 

On Sunday, members of Uptown’s Clergy Group came together to honor recent victims and celebrate Asian culture and diversity from different religious traditions in the neighborhood. 

Sen. Simmons, the son of an Ethiopian refugee, encouraged people to help their neighbors report attacks. 

“We’re not going to let hatred win in this community,” he said.

He’s also introduced a bill that would add immigration status to the state’s hate crime law. 

“It’s twofold,” said Stephanie Held, a St. Mary’s of the Lake parishioner. “It’s the personal work and larger systemic change and I’m glad to see that both are happening.” 

The Uptown community on Sunday vowed to fight racist rhetoric fueling attacks against Asians. 

“Be kind, tenderhearted, love one another,” one rally-goer said.

The faith community also vowed to learn about each other’s cultures as a first step toward understanding. 

“I think it’s kind of hidden,” said Uptown resident Grace Itter. “And I think this is exposing the reality of the racism and hatred that is happening within our borders.”

Held said Sunday’s show of support from an interfaith community was amazing to see. “There’s a lot more going on in the community than we realize,” she said. “We don’t tolerate hate in our community.”

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