Culture

Chinatown on edge after rash of attacks, robberies


OAKLAND — The videos are jarring.

In one, a frail 91-year-old man is suddenly shoved to the ground while walking along Harrison Street in Oakland’s Chinatown.

Around the same time that disturbing image went viral, footage appeared of a young man running toward an elderly person in San Francisco and slamming him to the driveway. The 84-year-old victim later died.

OAKLAND, CA – FEB. 20: Compassion in Oakland volunteers Tiffany Lin, from left, Karson Kwan and Amy Wong walk past a produce store while patrolling Chinatown in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, February 20, 2021. Security has been increased after several assaults on elderly residents and a robbery spree heightened fear in Chinatown. Compassion in Oakland was organized about two weeks ago to assist community members, families and local businesses in helping them feel safer. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Those assaults, along with a rash of robberies in Chinatown, have revived the fear that anti-Asian sentiment — stoked early in the pandemic when former President Donald Trump referred to the novel coronavirus as “the China virus” — still festers in the Bay Area, as well as across the nation.

The videos, shown repeatedly on television news, spurred social media messages and public pleas by Chinatown and city officials urging residents to decry anti-Asian violence.  Actors Daniel Wu and Daniel Dae Kim even got involved, announcing a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect in the Oakland assault.

OAKLAND, CA – FEB. 20: Compassion in Oakland volunteers Karson Kwan, left and Amy Wong talk to a woman on the sidewalk while patrolling Chinatown in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, February 20, 2021. Security has been increased after several assaults on elderly residents and a robbery spree heightened fear in Chinatown. Compassion in Oakland was organized about two weeks ago to assist community members, families and local businesses in helping them feel safer. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Amid a backdrop of reported hate incidents against Asian Americans — researchers at Stop AAPI Hate documented more than 2,808 nationwide last year since the pandemic began — Chinatown residents are taking action regardless of whether the local crimes sprung from hatred or just opportunity.

Merchants who had been reporting a number of attacks and robberies leading up to the Lunar New Year have taken the desperate but controversial move of hiring armed guards. Volunteer “ambassadors” have stepped up to escort residents and visitors — mostly the elderly — around the neighborhood. Rallies calling for unity have been held.

The city meanwhile has brought back a community police officer it had removed from Chinatown’s streets just weeks earlier in a budget-cutting move.

OAKLAND, CA – FEBRUARY 18: Private security officers are photographed along Webster Street on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Oakland, Calif. Oakland Chinatown merchants are paying for the security patrols in response to crime in the area. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

But despite the rallies, stepped-up security and ambassador escorts, people in Chinatown remain on edge. Last Monday, a man fired a gun at suspects who police …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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