MAHWAH, NJ — The Mahwah community will gather for a candlelight vigil honoring the victims of the recent shootings in Atlanta where eight people were killed, including six Asian American women. There has been a sharp rise in attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community since the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

The vigil is set for Thursday, March 25 at 7 p.m., Commodore Perry Field, 70 East Ramapo Avenue, Mahwah.

Mahwah mother and behavior analyst, Megan Cassella, who works with individuals with disabilities, says “Mahwah Alliance for Change wants to stand in solidarity with our Asian American neighbors and show that bigotry, hatred and violence towards any person or people has no place in Mahwah.”

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According to the Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate National Report, the organization received 3,800 incidents from March 2020 to March 2021, with more than two thirds of the incidents being reported by AAPI women. The types of discrimination experienced ranged from verbal harassment at 68%, shunning and avoidance of AAPI people at 20%, to 11% as incidents of physical assault.

“As the residential population of Mahwah becomes more diverse, this vigil is a bonding opportunity for our town members to raise awareness, show their support for their Asian and Asian American residents, and speak out against the hatred and violence against all minority groups. My hope is that we can come together in dialogue but also make diversity and inclusion front and center in the town’s future plans,” says Angie Chung, Mahwah mom and professor at University of Albany.

Mahwah high school students Ana Armendariz, Surya Maddali, Olivia Sciaino and Darian Pope, issued the following joint statement, “The hate of our Asian/American brothers and sisters is only getting worse. We understand your pain for we have been through it as well. We will all stand together to use our voices and end the virus of hatred and racism. We need to stop hate against Asian/Americans and address the true problems that we face as a society.”

There are numerous organizations working towards eradicating discrimination towards Asian/Americans. Stop AAPI Hate is receiving and compiling incidents of abuse and hate towards Asian/Americans. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum focuses on the empowerment of women and girls in the Asian/American community. The Asian Mental Health Collective focuses on building mental health community resources and removing stigma around the conversation on Asian/American mental health.