SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – A banner reading “Asians Are Strong” went up on 101 near the Vermont Street exit in San Francisco on New Year’s Day as a way to start off the new year with a positive message while also empowering the Asian American community.

Just three days later, that same banner was vandalized.

The founder of the community organization known as “Asians Are Strong” believes this was racially motivated.

If you’ve recently driven into San Francisco on 101 north, you probably noticed this banner of empowerment.

The banner went up on New Year’s Day but by Tuesday, it has already been vandalized and destroyed.

San Francisco native and founder of community organization “Asians Are Strong,” Hudson Liao, helped install this banner over the freeway.

“So proud and they felt proud and then to find out today that someone already vandalized it within three days. It was just so heartbreaking and it’s just like kind of a gut punch for us. It reminds us of how much more work we have to do,” Hudson Liao said. 

Liao believes the vandalism was an act of anti-Asian hate, says someone deliberately went out of their way to destroy a message meant to uplift the Asian American community.

“I was upset. I was pretty mad when it happened. It’s not even offensive. It says “Asians Are Strong”. Someone saw it on the freeway, got upset enough to get off the freeway, go find this random overpass and intentionally only cut off the Asians part, it wasn’t like the whole banner. They specifically cut off Asians to send a very very clear message that this was a racially motivated vandalism,” Liao said. 

Liao says the nonprofit now plans to come back bigger and louder by raising funds to install a billboard in the city. 

The “Asians Are Strong” organization is also planning more self-defense rallies, workshops, and educational events in the coming weeks.

“We’re not going to let this define our movement. We’re not going to let this single setback, single person put us down. We’re going to come back bigger, better, and stronger,” Liao said.