A new foot patrol group has been created in the Chinatown neighborhood of Oakland, California to protect Asian Americans from further violence.
For weeks, an increase in anti-Asian incidents has been reported across the country, sparking solidarity protests and community initiatives.
In Oakland’s Chinatown alone, at least 20 attacks were recorded before February, including the assault of a 91-year-old man who was shoved to the ground.
Responding to the situation, nonprofit organization East Bay Toishan Association recently convened the first meeting of its Oakland Chinatown foot patrol group.
Backed by the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Mental Health Association for Chinese Communities, Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus, this unarmed volunteer group will provide additional eyes and ears to deter further anti-Asian attacks. Volunteers will also report incidents, if any, to the Oakland Police Department.
“I’m here to help with reports,” said Officer Mae Phu of the Oakland Police Asian Community Liaison, according to NBC Bay Area. “A person that hopefully they can trust and be able to speak with.”
There are other groups patrolling Chinatown. Among them is Compassion in Oakland, whose volunteers offer to chaperone elderly Asians around the neighborhood.
“They’re attacking Asian women, often for cultural reasons. They don’t speak out. They don’t press charges. They don’t speak English well in some cases,” Iona Cheng, who lives in Oakland, told the Washington Post.
The 48-year-old Chinese American epidemiologist said she was also targeted. Last March, someone called her “coronavirus,” and a group of preteens assaulted her in December.
“I can’t walk outside the door of my house and feel safe,” she added. “I just feel like that was taken from me.”
Last week, California committed $1.4 million to the study and documentation of anti-Asian violence.
“The rise in hate incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic is alarming,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who secured the funding, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “But we can’t solve a problem without knowing how big it is. New state funding allows the data gathering to continue, and the research will ultimately lead us to solutions that will make all communities safer.”
Feature Image Screenshot via NBC Bay Area