"We're not parrots of Donald Trump"
A rally was held in San Francisco Chinatown yesterday to mark the 135th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
According to rally security, an estimated 750 people gathered on Saturday in Portsmouth Square to rally against the “Muslim travel ban and unjust anti-immigrant and refugee policies”.
The protest marked the 135th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act – the first ever law implemented to prevent an ethnic group from immigrating to the US.
Organised by NoMoreExclusion.org, the protest saw people of all ages coming together to rally for inclusion.
A number of key individuals from the community delivered powerful speeches, including Sameena Usman, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Reverend Norman Fong, Chinatown Community Development Center, Caitlyn Clark, a member of Youth Speaks and more.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed by President Chester A. Arthur on 6 May 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese labourers.
Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement, “The Chinese Exclusion Act was one of the most discriminatory laws ever passed in our nation’s history and it left permanent scars on the Chinese American community.”
“Unfortunately, 135 years after the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law, our nation is once again debating whether an entire group should be banned from entering the United States. This is unacceptable.”
Japanese American Leah Shigemura, a consultant and executive coach, who attended rally told Resonate that she was at the rally to “express [her] anger and outrage. Injustice never gets righted without people speaking up. The arc of justice will only arc in this direction if people stand up and have their voices heard. we can all sit back and be worried in our hoomes btu we have to speak up and create energy for this movement.”
Shigemura added that she attended the rally to protest the “regressive policies of the administration. We’re not parrots of Donald trump. the administration speaks for a narrow band of people in this country. We have the momentum. we’re not a lone voice. we are here educating each other and sharing information.”
Reverend Norman Fong, who delivered an empowering speech at the rally told Resonate that his family had suffered under the Chinese Exclusion Act. “My dad went to Angel Island and was part of the first race to be federally excluded from America,” said Fong. “Hatred based on race, especially using immigration laws is something horrible from the past. why is this administration falling into hate as well?”
The Reverend added that the Asian community needs to join together with other minorities who are suffering from injustice. “My dad went through hell like most Chinese immigrants who came in the old days. Today we all need to join together with the Muslim community and other communities. The main thing is to remember. today is a day of remembrance. we are calling all groups to stand together. Some people think it’s a muslim issue or Latina issue, but they forgot their history.”
All photos: Resonate/Jun Kit Man