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Rallies in King County call attention to attacks on Asian Americans during pandemic

A group of people spent the weekend holding rallies in King County to raise awareness and push back against hate directed at the Asian American community.

MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — A group rallied in Maple Valley Sunday to raise awareness and push back against hate directed at the Asian American community since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event was just one of many that happened over the weekend. The group took over the intersection known as Four Corners and held signs calling for unity, understanding and tolerance. 

Organizer Debra Erdenemandakh said she hopes for a deeper connection, as well. “Of course, stop Asian hate, but when we go more into detail it’s more about diminishing our model minority myth, the myth of being quiet,” she said.

Erdenemandakh said ending hate means helping end the stereotypes. “Being isolated, being the type of Asian that doesn’t speak out and it’s more about speaking out and showing awareness," said Erdenemandakh.

The recent attacks on some in the Asian community have also highlighted the need to protect each other physically. Last year in Seattle, the Chinatown International District (CID) Community Watch was formed in response to a rise in crime in the area. The group is made of volunteers who patrol the neighborhood three times a week during the evening and have been doing outreach at rallies.

Following news of a couple attacked in the CID in February and a post from Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz about a rise in Asian American hate crimes, the group has heard from dozens of people looking to volunteer.

“Every night at 5 p.m., it’s a couple of volunteers, these aren’t even police officers, these people aren’t getting paid, they’re going out to protect,” said Erdenemandakh. 

RELATED: King County prosecutors address rise in violence toward Asian Americans during pandemic

Nam To brought his family out to the rally on Sunday. "To see people of different ethnicities out here even chanting and showing their support, it means a lot," he said.

To said he likes the diversity of the Pacific Northwest and relies on his faith in God to focus on loving everyone no matter what they look like.

“We want the larger community and leaders to understand, speak to each other and be courageous and bold about speaking out about unity and value and diversity,” he said.

The group heard numerous cheers and honks on Sunday. They said the support and awareness feel good, but they hope it continues and more people are willing to get involved and stand up for their neighbors.

“There should be unity in our culture that is one of the things that makes America great, the not only the opportunity the hope for positive change,” said To.

A final awareness event is planned for Monday, March 15, at the Renton City Hall at 4:45 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to attend to show their support.

CID Community Watch is also working to expand its efforts. Starting as early as this weekend, the group is hoping to add bike patrols and a buddy system for seniors who are not comfortable traveling alone.

RELATED: Seattle police report rise in crimes targeting Asian-Americans since start of COVID-19 pandemic