TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — “We must protect each other,” Arthur Feinsod, president of the InterFaith Council of the Wabash Valley, said during a Sunday afternoon Zoom memorial for the six women of Asian descent killed March 16 in Atlanta.
The vigil was called “Standing with the Asian-American Community,” and the four Sikhs killed in the April 16 Indianapolis shootings were remembered, as well. Co-sponsors of the event included the InterFaith Council of the Wabash Valley, the Sisters of Providence and the Terre Haute Branch of the NAACP. Speakers included Sister Paula Damiano, Rabbi Remy Liverman, Sister Jessica Vitente, Riem Rostom, Terre Haute President of the NAACP Sylvester Edwards, Sinwon Lee Racop and Jean Kristeller.
Damiano delivered sobering statistics — hate crimes against Asian-Americans have risen 2,500% in the past year and one in three Asian-Americans fear they personally will be attacked. In a prayer, Liverman exhorted, “Cry out against violence and oppression.”
Speaking of those who speak in racist terms, Vitente wondered “what the system has done to us to be able to say those words.”
Edwards said the NAACP will help any victim of hatred, including seeking legal recourse.
Racop, who came to America in 1995 from Korea, spoke of “microaggressions” she has experienced, such as how she’s treated differently in public when with a white person than when she’s alone. She brightened when recalling that a week after the Atlanta shootings, a woman at her gym apologized to her “on behalf of white people;” the gesture made her want to cry.
Feinsod told of a Muslim friend who, a week after 9/11, was accosted on public transit by a man who told her to “go home to where she came from.” The most painful thing about the incident, he said, is that no one around her defended her or offered to console her afterwards. “Make sure they know that hate is not how we feel,” he implored.
Indiana State Senator Jon Ford attended the event virtually.