A group of citizens volunteered to patrol the streets of Oakland’s Chinatown in California to make sure other residents feel more secure following a string of violent anti-Asian attacks in the neighborhood.
Two fathers, Jimmy Bounphensy and Kelly Means, and their children went around the neighborhood on Monday night to patrol the area and spoke to merchants to tell them about their efforts for “Asians with Attitudes” (AWA), according to KTVU.
The group members decided to do something against the rising violence on older Asians and businesses in the neighborhood, especially those heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel the pain,” Means said. “My mother being robbed on a bus. My auntie being beat and robbed for her necklace.”
New Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong addressed the community on Monday during his swearing-in.
“We know they target our elderly,” Armstrong said via ABC7 News. “They come because they believe our community won’t report it to police. We are excited we have already transitioned into new strategies to make Chinatown a safer community.”
At a virtual meeting on Monday, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce President Carl Chan said at least eight groups are willing to help keep a better eye on the neighborhood and help its citizens.
Kenneth Lam, who runs a store selling Buddhist worship items, expressed his gratitude for the volunteers’ help.
“Chinatown [has] become a dead city. Everybody [is] afraid of coming out. Thank you guys for supporting us,” said Lam, whose store was recently robbed and attacked by three women.
“These people, they’re not my blood, but I feel like we have to step in as Asian community because I feel what they’re going through,” Means said.
Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu, along with civil rights activist Amanda Nguyen, recently appeared on MSNBC’s “American Voices” with Alicia Menendez to shine a light on the rising anti-Asian violence in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Featured Image via KTVU