The event was organized by the Borough President’s Office.
Mayor Bill de Blasio reminded everyone of the important role Asian Americans have played in shaping the city.
"If you love New York City, you can’t take the contribution of the Asian-American community out of it,” he said. “The only way we are New York City today is because of what Asian Americans have done for us.”
Senator Chuck Schumer spoke of a city of diversity, immigrants and unity and discussed the recently passed “COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act,” which among other things will make the reporting of hate crimes easier.
“We want to tell those evil few who propagate the Asian hate that you are not new Yorkers, you are not Americans and under the new law we passed we will prosecute you and give you the punishment you deserve,” he told the crowd.
Calling for a unified front against the attacks, Reverend Al Sharpton urged all community leaders to speak out and stop the violence.
“When Blacks attack Asians, Black leaders need to stand up,” he said. “When whites attack others, whites need to stand up.”
State Senator John Liu became emotional discussing reports of passersby refusing to intervene in some of the attack. He said it made him wonder if Asians are seen as less than human.
“We are not dogs,” he said. “We are not the coronavirus. We are people, we are human, we are Americans.”
According to the NYPD, in 2020 there was a 1,900 percent increase in attacks on Asians. But a presentative from the Asian American Federation said the statistics represent a huge undercount because many attack go unreported by the victims out of fear of retaliation or that they won’t be taken seriously.
The office of Attorney General Letitia James created a Hate Crimes Task Force to combat the crisis.
“Please do not be silent because you are not alone,” she said. “All of us stand with you against Asian hate.”