Vigils and rallies are increasingly becoming a routine over the past month in an effort to bring awareness to a stark rise in hate crimes against the Asian community during the pandemic. 

Nailing it For America, a volunteer advocacy group for nail salons and other community interests, held their third vigil because of the increasing violence and racism against the Asian American community.

Self defense skills are showcased to attendees by two practicing members of the Vietnamese Martial Arts Center. The event took place in the parking lot of Advance Beauty College in Garden Grove. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The rise in hate crimes against the Asian community pushed organizers to teach residents self defense tactics and general personal safety measures, in partnership with the Vietnamese Martial Arts Center and the Garden Grove Police Department.

From left, Chan Kieu, 79, shows two women a defense technique during the March 23, 2021 self defense event in Garden Grove. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Middle, Megan Nguyen, 24, is a member of the Vietnamese Martial Arts Center. When asked about the racism in Orange County, she acknowledged seniors who have been victims to hate crimes. “You know my extended family and parents are immigrants, they have thick skin, they will always be appreciative of being here [USA] despite everything thats happened to our community,” says Nguyen. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The words “No Hate” were slated to be emblazoned across Orange County’s sky in the evening, but due to the Santa Ana winds the sky message was postponed and is scheduled for some time next week, according to Tam Nguyen, co-founder of Nailing It For America.

The message was paid for by Kien Nguyen, Vietnamese American grandmother and Fountain Valley Resident who has repeatedly been a target of racist rhetoric when out exercising in the park.

Nguyen said she hasn’t been physically attacked in Orange County, but has experienced racism.

“They say she has COVID stay away from her and go back to your home and I said my home is here. I’ve been here for almost 50 years,” she said.

“My home is here.”

Fountain Valley resident Kien Nguyen learns self defense outside the Advanced Beauty College in Garden Grove on March 23, 2021. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Faith leaders and residents gathered at the nearby Community Center Park for a candlelight vigil to pray for peace and safety. The candles were displayed on phones and tablets for public safety reasons and luminarias filled with community members’ prayers and wishes were placed in a pond.

Electric candles were placed throughout the vigil. Pictured are handmade head wraps with the words,”Stop Asian Hate,” is a call to action due to the uptick in hate crimes against Asians. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The vigil was also held to honor the 10 people killed at a grocery store shooting in Colorado on Monday, as well as the people killed in a shooting in Georgia — a majority of whom were Asian women. 

The recent killings is the second mass shooting in the country in a span of a week.

“I feel that, there’s too many incidents since Covid against Asians, and has been directed towards seniors. My mom walks a lot and it can be her,” says Thy Nguyen, 40, of Garden Grove. Nguyen made her mask and plans to sell them to raise money for AAPI organizations. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
A moment of meditation and prayer during the vigil on March 23, 2021. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

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