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Rally calls attention to attacks on Asian Americans

Ryan Doan Nguyen helped lead a chant of "Stop Asian hate; Love Asian people" while leading people through the streets.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

A group of protesters gathered on Boston Common Saturday to decry recent attacks on Asian Americans across the country.

The rally, dubbed “Stop Asian Hate” and organized by a group of college students, was developed after an elderly Thai immigrant was fatally attacked in San Francisco in late January, according to an organizer.

The victim “looked just like my ong noi, my grandfather,” said Ryan Doan Nguyen, 18, a Harvard freshman who grew up in Dorchester and Westborough.

“Watching the death of yet another fellow community member pushed me to my breaking point, and I decided I could no longer sit still,” Doan Nguyen, who is on leave from Harvard this semester, wrote in a description of the rally.


Hundreds marched through Chinatown en route to the State House during a Stop Asian Hate Boston rally on Saturday afternoon. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Several hundred people gathered around Parkman Bandstand to listen to speeches and more than 100 later marched through Chinatown and to the State House, chanting “Stop Asian hate; love Asian people” and “This is what community looks like.”

While the onset of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago was linked with anti-Asian sentiment within the United States, recent attacks on older Asian Americans, including the incident in San Francisco, have again brought the issue to the fore.

In a prime-time address Thursday, President Biden condemned the attacks, saying Asian Americans are “forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong. It’s un-American, and it must stop.”

Hundreds marched through Chinatown en route to the State House during a Stop Asian Hate Boston rally on Saturday afternoon.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

An organization dedicated to tracking such incidents nationwide, Stop AAPI Hate, announced Tuesday that it had received 67 reports of anti-Asian hate and discrimination in Massachusetts during 2020.

“It’s happening everywhere. Not all of it is being reported,” Doan Ngyuen, the organizer, said in a phone interview before the rally. “Asian Americans have been afraid to speak out.”

He said those incidents have made him concerned for his own family, refugees from the Vietnam War.


Referencing recent attacks, he said he “should not have to worry that my grandmother will be set on fire, that my grandfather will be pushed and killed on a morning jog.”

“The thing is, I do worry. I worry so, so much for them,” he said.

Laura Crimaldi and Erin Clark of Globe staff contributed to this report.

Lucas Phillips can be reached at lucas.phillips@globe.com.