Rallies around the country Saturday drew crowds expressing support for Asian Americans after the slayings this week of eight people—six of them women of Asian descent—at three Atlanta-area spas. "We have been invisible and ignored in our country for over a century," Will Lex Ham, an actor, told demonstrators in Atlanta, USA Today reports. "We are getting violently physically attacked. It took an elderly man in San Francisco to die to get attention. It took six Asian women to die in Atlanta to get people to care." Ham led the crowd near the Georgia Capitol in chants of "Stand Up, Fight Back!" Demonstrators carried signs with such messages as "We are not the virus" and "Stop Asian Hate," per Reuters. Rallies were also planned in cities including New York, Houston, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.
A woman of Asian descent who left flowers at one of the spas on Saturday said she's worried about her safety, per CNN; hate crimes against Asian Americans have more than doubled during the pandemic, researchers say. "Even before this, when I was on the street sometimes people will ask me questions like, 'Why are you here?'" she said. "Nowadays after these things happen, I really feel scared." A woman at the Capitol said it was her first demonstration. "It feels like home—like we are surrounded by family members," she said. "We need people to know that we are not just silent and quiet." A New Yorker who lives in Chinatown said it was his two boys' first march, per the Wall Street Journal. "It's hard to explain the hate to them, and the evil," he said, "but they have to have that awareness that it is time to support the community." (Read more Asian-Americans stories.)