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A 12-year-old East Bay girl was inspired to organize an anti-hate rally this past Sunday after hearing about the rise of anti-Asian sentiment in the Bay Area.

“It made me feel pretty sad and shocked,” said 7th grader Mina Fedor. “It’s not nice to hear about (something) like that happening in our neighborhood.”

Barbara Zamost of Zamost Public Relations, who helped do media outreach for the rally, said Mina knows all too well how anti-Asian hate is impacting the community.

Last year, Mina’s mother, who is Asian, was walking in public when someone purposefully coughed in her direction.

The AAPI Youth Rising Rally began at 2 p.m. Sunday at Aquatic Park in Berkeley and was attended by an estimated 1,200 people. The demonstrators walked onto the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 80 to display banners and signs to the motorists below. Two Berkeley City Councilmembers, youth activists and community leaders attended the event and spoke.

Mina said she hoped the rally will raise awareness and encourage people to intervene when they witness an anti-Asian sentiment.

“Although there is hate out there, there is also a lot of support.” she said. “(We talked) about how to spread your voice and what to do when you see (anti-Asian sentiment). I’m hoping everyone can take away one thing from the speakers we have.”

The rally came as hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have spiked in the last year. The national coalition “Stop AAPI Hate” says there were nearly 4,000 reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since March of last year. About half the reports were in California.

The coalition says anti-Asian discrimination has increased over the last year because of the misconception that Asian Americans are responsible for the spread of COVID-19.