More than 100 people showed up Sunday evening at Walnut Creek’s Civic Park to protest recent anti-Asian violence, days after the killing of eight people at spas around Atlanta — six of them Asian women.
Activist group Indivisible ReSisters Walnut Creek organized the event, which was one of a string of weekend events in the Bay Area in response to the violence, much of which has targeted people in the area’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities over the past year.
Jamie Salcido, a member of Indivisible ReSisters and a Walnut Creek resident, said because the problems are structural, change won’t come easily.
“Let’s stand in solidarity, rise together; our time for equity and justice is far overdue,” Salcido said. “This land wasn’t set aside for anybody. But we call it home, and together we live in the U.S.A.
“We can find a way to heal our deepest wounds, to find a way to right what is wrong. Our children are watching — my daughter is watching — the next generation is waiting to see what we do.”
Las Lomas High School student Moxie Marsh, 17, said she was there to bring attention to harassment of a local Asian American family in Pacheco.
“After the Atlanta killings, I wondered if similar things have happened here,” she said, which led to her learning about the harassment of the family. “There’s a reason there’s not people of color here. It’s institutional, and it’s important to make space for everyone.”
Denise Rojo of Pleasant Hill said it is important for non-Asian people to come forward. She said she was speaking up for her Asian family and friends, like her Japanese American stepfather.
“They put on hats and sunglasses, so they don’t get noticed as much,” Rojo said. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
Walnut Creek Mayor Kevin Wilk told the crowd he had family members killed in the Holocaust.
“I grew up hearing over and over that silence equals acquiescence,” Wilk said. “And evil grows when good people remain silent. Now we can’t be silent, ever.
“We stand in solidarity with our fellow human beings; we’re all in this together.”
Kathryn Durham-Hammer, a Concord resident and one of the rally organizers, said it is important to have such conversations in historically white cities like Walnut Creek, where Census estimates say 15.3 percent of the population identifies as Asian, compared to 74.1 percent of white residents. Only 0.5 percent of Walnut Creek residents identify as Pacific Islander.
“This is a great show of strength and community,” Durham-Hammer said. “We’re here for a more equitable society. We want everybody to feel comfortable, to feel safe.”
After the rally, Wilk said this is exactly the kind of event that needs to be held in Walnut Creek.
“This is an important place to show up,” Wilk said. “This is more important than a traffic problem on Ygnacio Valley Boulevard.”