Members of the Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper endured a rainy Sunday afternoon to gather on Woodstock’s Village Green in a peaceful protest against violence toward Asian Americans.
The hatred came to a boiling point recently in the form of a mass shooting at three spas and massage parlors in Atlanta that killed eight.
“I’m here with a bunch of our residents, folks that I live with and practice with and people from the community who showed up,” said Danica Shoan Ankele, a senior monastic at Zen Mountain.
The crowd held signs and received honks of support from passing motorists.
State Senator Michelle Hinchey and Ulster County Legislature Majority Leader Jonathan Heppner stood with the protesters, offered their support and participated in a prayerful chant.
Ankele said the protest was initiated by members who were horrified and outraged by the Atlanta shootings.
“We wanted to come together and respond in some way in a show of unity and solidarity and support with Asian Americans, Asians in this country and also make a stand against this kind of racial hatred and violence that’s been erupting in our country,” Ankele said.
“It has sort of always been there under the surface and has been sort of displaying itself in some horrifying ways recently,” said Ankele. “It feels like the white supremacy culture of the United States is part of our founding and it’s one of the sort of illnesses we need to expose and transform and heal, so we’re living with each other and appreciating that we’re all human beings.”
She noted the hatred has been here for a long time and agreed the Trump administration’s constant reference to the Covid-19 virus as the China Flu or such offensive terms as the Kung Flu only served to stir that hate to the surface.
“What I want from my life, I can know that’s what you, anyone, regardless of their ethnicity or appearances, that’s what we all want,” Ankele said.
“We all want the same thing, to be happy and peaceful and at ease,” she said.
“And can we come together and support each other in that rather than responding from a place of hatred and ignorance and thinking that somehow we’re all different.”