Filipino American Activists Honor History, Take to the Streets in Solidarity With Black Lives Matter Movement

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The crowd chants "hands up, don't shoot!" at a rally on Wednesday June 10, 2020.  (Julie Chang/KQED)

Around a hundred protesters marched from the historic Gran Oriente Filipino Hotel in SoMa to the International Hotel on Kearny Street to show solidarity and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

The I-Hotel once housed low-income Filipinos. The location became a battleground between police and local activists when it was scheduled for demolition in the late 70s. In 1968, 150 elderly Filipino and Chinese tenants began a nearly 10-year anti-eviction campaign. Before the residential hotel was demolished, Black activists formed a barricade to prevent police from evicting its residents.

Protesters in front of the International Hotel on August 4, 1977. (Nancy Wong/WikiCommons)

“They've had our backs for so long,” Gianni Magpantay said. “In this event, we're sharing some history on the International Hotel that got raided by 400 riot police and our Black brothers sisters showed up for us,” Magpantay said on why it is now important for the Filipino community to show up for the Black community.

Eli Frances, who is Filipino American, organized the event. He recalled the historical location and historical advocacy “They were there when they were being evicted and they formed a barricade around the hotel to protect the Filipinos, so it’s our duty and responsibility to protect, stand and fight with them,” said Frances.

While Frances said anti-Black racism runs deep in some Asian communities, he believes now is the time to start confronting these issues.