Several hundred demonstrators gathered Thursday night for a march through downtown Madison to demonstrate support and stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Local organizers and the UW BIPOC Coalition planned and led the march. Protesters gathered in front of Madison City Hall before marching through downtown streets.

Along the march, protesters chanted, “Stop Asian hate!” and “when Asian lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!”

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Shootings in three Georgia spas left eight dead — including six women of Asian descent — and spurred the march. The incident coincided with a documented spike in anti-Asian hate crimes.

When asked why she was marching, UW senior Taylor Scofield shared her personal reaction to the shooting.

“I’m out here because I’m an Asian woman, my grandma immigrated here from the Philippines. And when I heard the news of what happened in Atlanta I was very scared and then very angry. And I wanted to come out here to make that known,” Scofield said.

A family of four from the Madison Asian Americans community hold two signs that read ‘Stop Asian Hate’ and ‘Love Not Hate’, as hundreds gathered for the ‘March for Asian American Lives’ rally against the shootings that occurred in Atlanta, during the rise in racist hate crimes towards Asian American community across the United States, in front of the Madison City Hall, on March 18, 2021
Zhen Wang/The Badger Herald

The march ended at the State St. side of the capitol. Organizers set up an open mic for UW students, organizations and community members to speak.

Lisa Iab Yang, a UW student with Freedom Inc., said while the shooting was painful, it wasn’t surprising.

“It is not surprising or new to me,” Yang said. “If it was surprising for you, you need to do the work to understand how we all create a world of silence and protection of white supremacy that allows violence to happen to Asian women.”

Other speakers shared how the pandemic affected them as members of the AAPI community.

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UW senior Thida Chong addressed the rise in hate crime against the AAPI community during COVID-19. 

“We have been dying this whole pandemic and not just from COVID,” Chong said. “When we were first at home over that long spring break, I wasn’t afraid of dying of COVID. I was afraid of dying of a hate crime.”

Chong joined other speakers in calling for continued action from UW students and the Madison community, including demanding support from elected officials, joining future protests and calling out issues in the classroom.

Ahmad Hamid/The Badger Herald

Wisconsin State Representative Francesca Hong from the 76th district encouraged people to hold elected officials accountable.

“Let’s use our power here for good. Call out your elected officials. Make them make a statement, and make sure they do more than just a statement because it’s not just about being in solidarity, it’s about finding solutions,” Hong said.

Gracie Regala, a representative of the Filipino American Student Organization at UW, implored protesters to take action by calling for Madison to acknowledge xenophobia, challenging legislators to oppose resolutions honoring Rush Limbaugh, demanding diverse mental health care providers and working towards defunding of the police.

“We’re constantly fighting for our identity. We’re constantly fighting to be seen, to be heard and to be respected. Enough with the performative action that serves as a temporary solution to the problem,” Regala said.