SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A rally to push for love and healing in the Asian community drew hundreds to Civic Center Plaza Sunday.

People came to transform their pain and anger into power and compassion, carrying signs that read “Side with Love,” and “Love Our People, Heal Our Communities.”

Organizers held a similar rally Saturday in Oakland.

Supporters said it was an important space for cross-racial dialogue and education.

“I grew up in Milpitas in a really sheltered environment. There was hardly any racism growing up. I didn’t even know what it was. I come into the city and I start to see things that are separating, and it’s sad to me,” said San Francisco resident Eric Lawson, who has been directly affected by the recent attacks.

RELATED: Oakland Chinatown Attacks

Lawson carried a photo of his father-in-law, Vicha Ratanapakdee, who came from Thailand to help take care of his grandkids. The 84-year-old died in an unprovoked attack that was caught on video in the Anza Vista neighborhood. A suspect has been arrested and charged with homicide in the attack.

“We’re glad to see people standing up and speaking out,” said Lawson.

People of all races are making a stand in their own way.

“It’s highly disturbing at a time when we all should be pulling together, when we all realize how precious life is, and how tender, and how easy it is to lose. And how much that only when we band together can we actually solve the big problems,” said Vanessa Southern, senior minister with First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco. “This is not a time to be bringing up our old hatreds and old oppressions.”

Chinese for Affirmative Action is among several groups who helped organize the San Francisco day of action.

“The message is that we are working together to address the immediate harm and we also have to get to the underlying causes of crime and violence, which includes addressing the depravation,” said CAA Co-Executive Director Cynthia Choi.

Choi says the pandemic has exposed structural inequalities and disparities in this country.

“We also have to support communities and see each other and our well-being as interconnected – not come up with solutions that will disproportionately impact one community or demonize one community over the other. Public safety is an everybody issue,” said Tinisch Hollins of SF Black Wallstreet.

The Stop AAPI Hate online reporting center says it has received more than 2,800 reports of Anti-Asian racism, discrimination and attacks since the pandemic began. Choi said many more go unreported. Incidents can be reported at the Stop AAPI Hate website.