April 14, 2021
“I think the values of events like this are the stories people share,” protester LAHS junior Katherine Lai said. “There is a power in stories to increase empathy among different people from different communities. [These stories] connect people across races and across ethnicities [who have] experienced the same fear and racism.”
One of the volunteer community speakers who shared their experiences was Korean-American and Bay Area native Yul Kwon, who won Season 13 of the reality show “Survivor.” Kwon spoke about racial aggression towards his family that he’s witnessed both during childhood and in the entertainment industry.
“I remember waking up one morning to find that someone had covered a house with toilet paper and spray painted in giant letters ‘g*ok lives here’ with an arrow pointed at our house,” Kwon said.
The anti-Asian racism followed Kwon into his career. When he was interviewed by “Survivor” creator Mark Burnett, Kwon was “questioned about [his] Americanness” when Burnett asked him “where are you really from.”
“I’m really from the Bay Area, Mark Burnett!” Kwon said. “But there is one thing I know that has changed. Our community and other communities that are standing with us are no longer going to put up with this hate. We are not going to let this happen again and again without speaking up and without calling out ‘this is wrong!’”
Mountain View police chief Chris Hsiung and District Attorney Jeff Rosen also attended the protest, voicing their support for the AAPI community.
“We, as the Mountain View police force, are here for you,” Hsiung said during his speech. “[You can] smile so big that [people] can see it right through the mask, and smile at the [police officers] because I know they are smiling back at you too.”
Rosen, representing the District Attorney office, made a similar promise regarding AAPI hate crimes, which the crowd responded to positively.
“The 600 members of the District Attorney’s office stand with the victim of hate, and stand against the perpetrators of hate,” he said. “We will vigorously prosecute anyone who targets anyone because of their ethnicity.”
Other protesters reflected on racism in their communities more broadly and shared their visions for the future.
“This is the same America built on the backs of enslaved people, the same America that uprooted Japanese Americans from their homes to places in internment camps,” Amanda said during her speech. “We need to strike for the liberation [of all people] from white supremacy.”
Protester Castilleja School senior Aramis Mendoza also emphasized the importance of standing united among different races and ethnicities in the fight for equity and justice.
“Because I know so many people showed up for Black Lives Matter, so I want to show that same support as well,” Aramis said.
Like Aramis and Amanda, other protestors emphasized the need for unity.
“We are the United States,” protester Ester Kwok said. “If we stand united, we will be a better country, [but] if divided, we fall. So given all the hate incidents that are going on, it is important to say that enough is enough.”