Over 500 Asian American seniors in Manhattan’s Chinatown received a loud alarm device that would help them stay safe against hate crimes amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The initiative, known as “Safe From Hate,” was conceived by friends Barbara Yau and Gilbert Chan, who grew up together in the neighborhood.
Yau and Chan thought of handing out alarm devices in March after hearing the surge of hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic.
“Asian Americans are being unfairly harassed and viciously attacked across the country for a virus that we did not cause,” Chan, who is also involved with Concerned Asian American Citizens of NYC (CAACNYC), said in a statement. “Asians are feeling unsafe in their own country! We wanted to give people a greater sense of security when they venture outside.”
Funding the campaign themselves, they approached board members of Confucius Plaza, an apartment complex housing low-income senior citizens, to propose a collaboration.
Last weekend, the campaign pushed through and provided more than 500 seniors free alarms, which they can use to call for help in the event they find themselves abused.
The recipients, who all pre-registered last month, were taught how to operate the device, which included alarm and light functions.
When activated, the device will sound at 125 decibels — a volume sufficient to shock and disorient an attacker, as well as provide the victim enough time to run away and/or call for help.
However, it’s not just seniors who have received the devices. A pre-launch distribution in July handed out 50 to participants of an anti-hate march organized by CAACNYC.
“I wear my mask for COVID protection. I carry my safety alarm for harassment protection,” said Stella Au. “I was a victim last week and thankfully was saved by two passersby. I now don’t leave home without this alarm since I don’t know if I would be as lucky next time around.”
Images via Safe From Hate