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‘Stop Asian Hate’ car parade travels down Las Vegas Strip

Updated March 28, 2021 - 8:01 pm

A line of sports cars, trucks and motorcycles paraded down the Strip and into Las Vegas’ Chinatown on Sunday afternoon, calling for a stop to hate crimes against Asian Americans.

The Metropolitan Police Department estimated about 100 vehicles participated in the “Las Vegas Cruise for Asian Hate Awareness,” which started about 3:30 p.m. at Silverado Ranch Park and ended at 4284 Spring Mountain Road, in one of Spring Valley’s many shopping plazas filled with primarily Asian businesses.

Tony Bentajado, a hip-hop artist who goes by KNine, helped organize the event among car enthusiasts on social media in response to a growing national number of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reported as disinformation spread about the COVID-19 pandemic.

When officials said a white gunman opened fire in three Atlanta spas March 16, killing eight people — six of whom were women of Asian descent — Bentajado said the news forced hate crimes against Asian Americans into the national spotlight.

“I feel like nobody was really talking about it until probably what, two weeks or a month ago?” he said. “And this has been going on for over a year. I mean, it’s been going on longer than that, but it started being publicized little by little on social media over a year ago.”

As cars pulled into the shopping plaza off of Spring Mountain, flags representing Laos, South Korea, Japan, Guam and the Philippines stood out against the upward-curving roofs lining the Chinatown area. Bentajado wore a beaded necklace with a Philippine sun pendant and carried a sign reading “Stop Asian Hate,” while his friend carried the Philippine flag across his shoulder.

“It was only a week putting all this together,” said Bentajado’s friend Lo, who helped organize the parade but declined to give his last name. “I was telling everyone the same thing — I was like, ‘Man, I don’t even want to be the face, I’m doing this for the community.’”

Following the Atlanta killings, business owners and employees in the Chinatown area told the Review-Journal they were concerned for their safety and the safety of their families. Las Vegas police also increased patrols in the area.

In the past year, 3,795 hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were reported to Stop AAPI hate, a reporting center launched in March by the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department.

There were no hate crimes against Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders reported to Metro between 2017 and 2020, according to department statistics.

Rose Love’s puppy, a husky named Kira, wore a white shirt reading “Stop Asian Hate!” on Sunday while riding in an orange sports car. The 21-year-old heard about the event on social media and said she was compelled to participate because she is Black and Asian American.

“It’s unfair how they’re being blamed for the coronavirus,” Love said about the Asian American community. “We should all be coming together.”

Bentajado and his friend said they wanted to support the Asian businesses in Spring Valley and “let them know we’re here for them.”

“I haven’t seen — not to say it doesn’t happen — but I haven’t seen any Asian hate crimes out here,” Bentajado said. “It kind of speaks to the diversity and love that our community has.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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