Scores of Black and Asian Americans took part in a “Walk of Faith” through Chinatown on Saturday, an action meant to show solidarity to Asian communities amid ongoing anti-Asian violence.
The walk was initiated by Black Christian leaders in Brooklyn, including members of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, also known as “The God Squad,” who reached out to Asian-American clergy.
At times deeply religious, the event included multiple prayers along the route and the occasional sounding of a horn by a participant.
“He is our peace who has made the two into one and has destroyed the wall of hostility,” read one demonstrator’s sign, quoting Ephesians 2:14 from the Bible.
Hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers in 2021 were up 361% over the previous year, according to NYPD stats. The group Stop AAPI Hate recorded 10,905 hate incidents against Asian American Pacific Islanders nationally between March 2020 and the end of 2021. On Friday, Dallas police chief Eddie Garciaa shooting this week that injured three women at a hair salon in the city’s Koreatown may have been a hate crime, as it closely followed two other shootings targeting Asian-owned businesses.
The walk was held in the wake of a number of high-profile attacks on Asian New Yorkers, including the death of GuiYing Ma, who was fatally bludgeoned outside her home in Queens; Christina Yuna Lee, who was stabbed to death inside her Manhattan Chinatown home; and Michelle Go, who died after being pushed off a subway platform in Times Square.
Several incidents have involved Black suspects, leading to concerns about tensions between Black and Asian communities. These tensions have been further stoked by white conservatives such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has said, “Asians were more likely to be attacked by African-Americans than by members of their own ethnicity.” He also rebutted claims that former President Donald Trump encouraged anti-Asian attacks by his frequent reference to “kung flu” and other xenophobic language in the early days of the pandemic.
During the walk, NYU student Eden Min knelt as she led the crowd in a prayer, and grew emotional while speaking about “the death of our brothers and sisters in the city.”
As she began to weep, she was comforted by Rev. Bernadette Lewis of the Zion House of Prayer in Brooklyn, who stood behind Min and placed her hands on her shoulders.
Afterward, Lewis said in an interview that “we may look differently, our skin may differ, our looks may differ, but we all hurt.”
The anti-Asian attacks had escalated during the pandemic, she said, in part because people are dealing with mental health issues.
“So they’re lashing out and attacking the nearest person for no reason whatsoever,” said Lewis. “So we now need to have resources available for them.”