By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Taiko drummers performed before hundreds of supporters outside San Francisco City Hall at a rally called ‘Push Forward’ Saturday afternoon.

It was organized by the San Francisco-based grassroots group Asians Are Strong. People carried signed that read “Don’t Be Passive” and “Change Starts With You.”

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“We know that right now people are burnt out,” said Asians Are Strong Founder Hudson Liao. “We know people are kind of tired of going to rallies and talking about it. But we’re telling people it’s important. It’s when you’re tired is when it’s the most important to keep pushing.”

One way Asians Are Strong wants to empower the community is through free martial arts and self-defense lessons. They offer courses virtually and in-person on a regular basis.

The group was founded in March this year as a response to the rise in crimes against Asian Americans across the country.

Liao says he simply doesn’t feel safe in his native city.

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“I’m talking to you Mayor London Breed, Police Chief Scott, District Attorney Chesa Boudin,” he said. “Figure it out. And it’s not just you, I know there’s more people, I know the supervisors need to step it up, I know the judges need to apply the law properly, so that we can lock up the criminals that are literally attacking elders.”

Nearly 7,000 anti-Asian hate incidents have been reported to the coalition Stop AAPI Hate, in the year since the pandemic began.

Asians Are Strong hopes beyond the rally, they inspire Asian Americans.

“To not be afraid to speak up, to be my own hero, and to support our collective communities together,” said attendee Helen Wo of San Francisco. “It’s important because my parents are immigrants. I love San Francisco and the community, and I want us to be a stronger community together.”

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“I’m meeting a lot of people and you just have to come out if you,” said resident Will Lee. “It’s important because we need to ban together and we’re fighting for something that’s wrong.”