The wife of a security guard who was repeatedly punched in Vancouver’s Chinatown, challenged the city’s mayor to walk its streets to see what it is like amid rising attacks in the area.
Harold Johnson, a 64-year-old security guard, was previously attacked on Aug. 12 by a stranger, identified as 44-year-old Kevin Aaron Hibbard, while patrolling the Chinese Cultural Center.
Johnson, a beloved resident of Chinatown, suffered a concussion, broken nose and cheekbone. The suspect is currently wanted in British Columbia after he failed to appear in court.
Community members have raised almost $30,000 to help Johnson, who is currently unable to work. The Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association also donated $8,800 to the victim and his wife, Brandy La Rocque Johnson. On Friday, he was also given a $20,000 check from a GoFundMe campaign organized by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
The neighborhood, including Brandy, is fed up with the violence in Chinatown that has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has called on merchants to stand in solidarity and expressed her anger toward Mayor Kennedy Stewart.
“I am angry,” Brandy told Global News. “What in the world is the mayor doing? I am going to turn around and challenge Mayor Kennedy to come down here by himself to walk with me on the streets. Walk and see what’s really happening here, it’s time he woke up.”
When the mayor was asked if he would walk with her, Stewart did not directly answer the question.
“Everybody needs to feel safe in Vancouver,” he responded. “We’re doing everything we can. I’m very happy to reach out and talk to anybody that would like to discuss this, including the members of [Harold Johnson’s] family.”
Stewart reportedly walked through the 100-block of East Hastings Street west of Main, where he passed some tents. He did not make any promises, but he said that public safety is his top priority.
Chinatown celebrated its second annual Light Up Chinatown outdoor celebration over the weekend. The event included live entertainment and food trucks, which brought visitors to the historic neighborhood.
“I do feel brighter days are ahead for Chinatown and a lot of it’s to do with events like this,” Stewart told Global News.