In response to the rising number of hate crimes directed at Asian Americans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, local teens plan a rally against hate and racism. 

According to a media release, the Otsego Solidarity Rally for Asian Americans will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 2, in front of the Otsego County Courthouse at 197 Main St. in Cooperstown. Village and county regulations require masks and social distancing.

May is Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage month. Students involved in organizing the rally have created a window display at 149 Main St. in Cooperstown to highlight the history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The exhibit will be on display throughout the month of May.

Cate Bohler, one of the 15-year-old organizers, said in the media release, “I want to organize this rally to see how people come together to fight against racial injustice. My biggest goal is to help people become aware, educate them about things they might not know about. The rally is a starting point for action.”

The teens have the support of community members, public officials, and the Village Library of Cooperstown, the release said.

Scheduled speakers include Otsego County Rep. Danny Lapin, Otsego Town Supervisor Meg Kiernan,* and Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh.

Police representatives will address how to report a hate crime and what people can do to safely intervene, the release said.

Susan Weil, a social worker at Bassett Healthcare Network, said in the release, “There are things bystanders can do to reduce the trauma that a person being harassed experiences,”

Lynne Mebust, one of the rally advisors, said, “Hate against Asian American Pacific Islander communities has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Solidarity Rally promotes awareness. There are steps we can take to stop racism and violence.”

In the last year, according to the release, Asian Americans have experienced verbal harassment, online harassment, shunning, physical assault and civil rights violations. Reports of discrimination and violent incidents are on the rise in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The exhibit, “Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams” is on display through July 25 at Fenimore Art Museum. The exhibit “provides context for the current period,” rally organizers said in the release.

Created in 1943, the photographs document one of the several U.S. concentration camps that incarcerated Japanese Americans and others during World War II. The images “depict a dark period for America and serve as a reminder about an unfortunate moment in our country’s treatment of Asian Americans,” the release said. Visit https://tinyurl.com/ypjnus5z  for more information.

*changed at 10:18 p.m. April 27 to correct Kiernan's title.

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