On March 27, a Stop the Hate Rally and Vigil was held in front of San Dimas City Hall to condemn the recent hate crimes against Asian Americans and individuals of color.
The rally was a response to a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the last year. Between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021, there have been 3,795 incidents of discrimination against Asian Americans, according to a report from Stop AAPI Hate.
According to the same report, verbal harassment and deliberate avoidance (shunning) make up the two largest proportions of the total incidents reported at 68.1% and 20.5%, respectively.
Physical assault comprises the third largest category, accounting for 11.1% of the total hate crime incidents.
Los Angeles County reported 524 total hate crimes throughout 2019, the highest since 2009. White supremacist crimes increased by 38%, according to the same report.
Gary Enderle, a long-time San Dimas resident, organized the rally to show that racism has no place in the city.
“I hope to get the exposure and the awareness that we are concerned and we don’t want to be like a lot of other cities that have a big racial problem,” Enderle said.
“As an Asian American female, I have gone through experiences, as a person of color, as a woman who has experienced it. So I want to come out here today to show my support,” said Rebekah Hong, 25-year resident of San Dimas.
Hong said she is proud and grateful for the city to allow a rally to support condemning hate against people of color.
“I am glad that this community can rally together and show support,” Hong said. “Not just addressing anti-Asian but also just hate in general and violence in general.”
Hong was joined at the rally by her friend Amanda Francis, who has also lived in San Dimas for the past 25 years.
Both Hong and Francis said they were shocked to hear that the city was holding a rally and vigil for this cause.
“Growing up here, San Dimas, it wasn’t really the most politically active place. Not the most diverse place either. So it’s changed a lot. Now I teach kindergarten, and my classes are incredibly diverse. So it’s different from when we were kids,” Francis said.
Both of them hope the city continues the conversation and educates one another.
“We all play a role in this,” Hong said. “Playing an active role, whatever that may look like. There’s no judgment or shame in that. But the same with the local city council too — they also play an active part in this.”
The rally brought out about 40 individuals, ranging from all ages and backgrounds. Faith Gutzkae, a student from San Dimas High School, attended the event with her sister and mother.
“I think that it’s really sad to see people hating on each other because we all matter. And I think you shouldn’t be put down because of the color of your skin, the way you look or your race,” Gutzkae said. “I think using your voice is a big part of it. We should all use our voice. Speak up for what’s going on because I think speaking up can go a long way.”
The rally ended with speakers addressing a small crowd gathered on the steps of City Hall. The speakers included Pastor Nichole Johnson from Faith Lutheran Church, Father Chris Santangelo from Holy Name of Mary Church and San Dimas High School student Chloe Jones.
Jones explained how, as a young Mexican and Black woman, she had experienced racism herself.
“Every time I heard a student say the N-word in class, that chipped away an itty bitty piece of me. Every time I had kids touch my hair, whether it was in an afro, my natural hair, or up in braids, that chipped away an itty bitty piece of me. Every time I was told I couldn’t be Mexican, or that my cousins aren’t really my cousin because we don’t look alike, that chipped away an itty bitty piece of me,” Jones told the crowd.