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City Council candidates join activists in cycling for justice across western Queens

More than 150 cyclists gather in Queensbridge Park before setting off on a Ride for Justice in response to anti-Asian American violence. (Courtesy of Tran campaign)

As the onslaught of Asian American violence continues to plague New York City, more than 150 cyclists pedaled across western Queens Saturday to raise awareness and call for justice. The event was organized by Helen Ho, co-founder of the Biking Public Project; Margaret Lu of Girls Bike NYC; activist Pam Yang; and two candidates for City Council, Julie Won and Carolyn Tran.

The Bike Ride for Justice was the first of its kind to be led by women making their way along a 10-mile route from Queensbridge Park and ending in Elmhurst Park. The group paused briefly on Justice Avenue in Elmhurst as riders chanted “no justice, no peace” before resuming their ride.

“Our society leaves Asian American Pacific Islanders vulnerable at every turn. From women working survival jobs, to men collecting bottles on the side of the street, the victims of these hate crimes have been made vulnerable by a system that criminalizes poverty and renders us expendable,” said Won, a District 26 candidate. “This ride should not be misconstrued as a call for more violent policing. Instead, we are here to build solidarity amongst marginalized New Yorkers of color and advocate for community-led public safety.”

Tran, a District 25 candidate who rode with her two young daughters, believes that anti-AAPI violence can only be combated with an intersectional community-led approach.

“We cannot lean on law enforcement to keep us safe, we keep each other safe,” Tran said. “For too long, our immigrant and working-class communities of color have been over-policed and brutalized by broken systems and institutions that were never meant to keep us safe. We’re riding to say that those most impacted should be the voices we hear the loudest to effect change.”

 

Photo courtesy of Julie Won’s campaign for City Council

Meanwhile, nearly 950 educators, parents and students from every corner of Queens signed off on an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter asking city leaders to take swift and enduring actions to address the anti-Asian discrimination that have fueled recent violence against Asian New Yorkers.

The letter, signed by a coalition of more than 2,500 community members from the metropolitan area, calls for immediate actions to establish and promote a curriculum in the city’s public school system that is inclusive on Asian American history and culture.

“Asian American children must know their history in this country so they can be proud of their heritage and stand up to discrimination and hate. Their classmates who are not of Asian descent must also learn about Asian American history to better understand and respect the racial and ethnic background and identity of their Asian American peers,” the coalition wrote. “Very few NYC students are taught about the numerous ground-breaking contributions Asian Americans have made to this country and our city, or about the hardships, exclusions, violence, and killings that Asian Americans have endured over the centuries in this country and our city. The stories of how Asian Americans have stood up against racism and discrimination and fought to realize their dreams must be told. Asian American history is American history.”

They added that it is critical for all NYC students to see Asian American role models, historical figures, writers, artists, scientists and contemporary leaders included in the school context, including but not limited to curriculum, classroom walls, library books, lesson slides and performances. To address the discrimination and prejudice that Asian American students have been subjected to for far too long, the coalition asks the principals and teachers of NYC public schools to support Asian American children now.

“We believe that by learning about the history of each member of our community — how we arrived at this land and how we helped to build this nation and city together — we will be more united, empathetic and respectful to each other; we will be better able to fight racism, discrimination and inequality,” they concluded. “We look forward to collaborating with you to achieve racial representation and equality in our schools for all children.”

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