"We have to guard our freedom," Xiaoyun Hou told the crowd. She is a mother of three and organizer of the rally. She says she no longer feels safe walking alone in her own community.
"We are alienated again, marginalized more than before," she said.
She and hundreds of other people from all backgrounds rallied in Chinatown to stand against hate.
"This is happening right next to us, everybody has this experience, it's not one single isolated incident. Everybody feels less safe," she said.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have surged 149% since the pandemic began. More than 3,800 incidents have been recorded, including several acts of vandalism in Philadelphia this week that police are investigating.
"This is unacceptable. This is not America. We must protect the Asian community and we must show we are in solidarity," said Congressman Dwight Evans, who joined the rally along with several members of Philadelphia City Council
"United, we can show that the city really cares and will be out here to protect people. We want people to feel safe," said Councilmember Mark Squilla.
The community, which marched from Chinatown to Independence Mall and then City Hall, hoped the rally sent a message of unity.
"We want people to know we are hardworking people, we're a part of your community, and we are here to be part of the community," said Angela Wu.
Activists were asked to keep COVID precautions in mind with mandatory masks and social distancing.