March 24, 2021

Stop Asian Hate Rally Set for Saturday

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton community, town and University, along with many other voices and demonstrators from across the country, has responded strongly to the March 16 mass shooting in Atlanta, where a white male shot and killed eight people, six of whom were Asian American women.

Several local organizations, led by the Princeton Chinese Community group, will be holding a Stop Asian Hate Rally and Vigil  on Saturday, March 27 at Hinds Plaza outside the Princeton Public Library at 1 p.m. to mourn the shooting victims and speak out against the rise in racism against Asian Americans.

Calling for solidarity with Asian American communities, the Princeton Chinese Community and 12 other local organizations issued a statement expressing outrage at the “racially targeted killings in Atlanta as well as the blatant racism and misogynistic dehumanization demonstrated toward the victims.”

Their statement emphasized, “We ask for solidarity from all our brothers and sisters as we demand action and change. We ask our community leaders and elected representatives to respond to this violence with policies that support and protect our most vulnerable
community members.”

The statement went on to point out longtime American stereotypes and systemic prejudices that have contributed to the rise of hate crimes. “We understand that the fundamental root of anti-Asian hate crimes is systemic racism and xenophobia in America,” they wrote. “The model minority myth is a stereotype that obscures the long history of racism, and hides the diversity within our communities. Asian Americans have ancestral roots in more than 20 different countries. We are U.S.-born, naturalized citizens, and undocumented immigrants. We are working class and we are executives. Our differences are what make us Americans.”

In an online post last week, Princeton Mayor Mark Freda called on the community and the nation “to reverse the increased violence, racism, and discrimination that has become too common over the last year.” He added, “Recent racist acts against the Asian American and Pacific
Islander (AAPI) community call for all of us to clearly and loudly speak out against such behavior.”

Freda continued, “We should celebrate the diversity that exists within our country. Acts of discrimination, hate crimes, and physical attacks are not part of our core values as Americans. It is distressing to see hate and discrimination against any group of people living in the United States. Information from Stop AAPI Hate reports 3,795 incidents of hate ranging from verbal harassment and name calling to physical assaults occurring between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021.”

In a March 18 letter, the Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, condemned the  “inter-related epidemics” of gun violence and racial hatred. “Nationally, gun murders have increased to almost 20,000, and hate crimes against Asian Americans have surged to nearly 3,800 in the past year,” he wrote.

“People of conscience need to urgently advocate for sensible gun safety measures such as requiring gun purchasers to have permits to purchase their guns, and a three-day waiting period after purchasing a gun before being able to pick it up. These measures could have prevented the Atlanta shooting,” Moore added.

Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber issued a statement on his March 17 blog, mourning the victims and expressing solidarity with the Asian American community.

“I join the Princeton University community and people everywhere in mourning the victims of last night’s horrific shootings in Atlanta,” he wrote. “Though the killings remain under investigation, these attacks come amidst a disturbing nationwide rise in violence, discrimination, and xenophobia directed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander  community.”

Eisgruber went on to point out that these trends are “only the most recent and visible manifestations of durable, damaging, and too often overlooked racism and injustice.”  He added, “We must condemn not only recent acts of violence against Asian Americans, but also the much more pervasive discrimination and stereotyping that has for too long and too often harmed Asian American lives and impoverished our society.”

Eisgruber reiterated his words from last June in response to the police killing of George Floyd, noting “we all have an obligation to stand up against racism, wherever and whenever we find it.”

Princeton University’s student population is just under 30 percent Asian or Asian American, faculty between 10 and 15 percent, and staff at 11 percent, according to on the University website.

“Princeton’s Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community is a vital source of creativity and strength for this University,” said Eisgruber. “Our future depends on ensuring that they, and people of all backgrounds, can flourish fully here and in America. In our scholarship, our teaching, and our University’s efforts to fight systemic racism, we will continue to support and work with our AAPI students, faculty, staff, and alumni to build a better world.”

In a March 18 letter to the community, Nolan McCarty, interim dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, echoed Eisgruber’s words and emphasized the need to stand up against racism. “As those embedded in policy, we must work against these forces to ensure the safety and well-being of our entire society. We must — as our mission statement affirms — be of service to the nation and humanity and fight against hate, inequity, bias, discrimination, and violence.”

Engineering and Applied Science Dean Andrea Goldsmith, in a letter to the engineering community, characterized the violence as “hurtful to the local Asian community” and “an affront to our whole community, our core values, and our commitment to building an inclusive culture where all people are valued and can thrive.”

She continued, “Like so many problems we face as engineers, solutions to end these acts of violence in our society will be complex and require many hands. I urge us all to support each other and stand together to root out racism and bias, and to reaffirm who we are as a community.”

Pablo G. Debenedetti, Princeton University dean for research, also joined Eisgruber in condemning violence and racism, and he emphasized the destructive effects of racism and prejudice. “Our research enterprise thrives thanks to the diversity of thought and perspective that researchers from around the globe bring to the creation and transmission of knowledge at Princeton,” Debenedetti wrote in a March 22 statement. “Our excellence as a research university stems from the free and open exchange of ideas and perspectives. Racism and prejudice stand as barriers to the ability of our Asian and AAPI colleagues to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and the betterment of society.”

Leaders of the University’s Princeton in Asia (PiA) organization expressed solidarity and support for their AAPI community in a March 19 letter condemning discrimination, violence, and hate crimes against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

“As an organization that works to foster goodwill and understanding between the U.S. and Asia through person-to-person exchange, we call on our community to carry forward this important mission here in the U.S. by fighting anti-Asian racism, xenophobia, and discrimination in all its forms,” they wrote. “These recent events highlight the importance and heighten the urgency of our work at PiA to overcome this injustice and to fight racism in all its forms, through education and action.”

Rally organizers, noting that Asian Americans are the largest minority group in Princeton, comprising close to 20 percent of residents, stated that “there is no space for racism in this town,” and reiterated their call for “a rally and vigil to remember the lives lost and the suffering due to racism and xenophobic violence in this country, and to remind ourselves of the importance of solidarity and unity, and to recognize our collective strength in building a strong community.”

Co-signers of the statement and co-organizers of the rally along with the Princeton Chinese Community were the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Princeton University, Central Jersey Chinese American Association, La Convivencia-New Jersey, Montgomery Township Equity and Inclusion Committee, New Jersey Vietnamese American Community Association, Not In Our Town, Princeton Progressive Chinese Americans, Princeton Theological Seminary’s Asian American Program, Princeton University Chinese American Parents Association, Our Revolution Trenton Mercer, Rotary Club of Princeton, and United Chinese Americans-New Jersey.