Carl Chan, as the president of Oakland Chinatown’s chamber of commerce, has noticed how Covid-19 pandemic and the wave of attacks on older Asians are keeping customers away.
From coast to coast, there has been a significant increase of volunteer groups that aimed to patrol Asian neighborhoods in order to deter racism and violent attacks that the Asian descents have been going through the past year.
In Oakland, a dozen people patrols the streets of Chinatown everyday, wearing bright orange vests, carrying whistles, and some even wearing body cameras.
“We try to just show our presence to try to make sure that the individuals that might be out there don’t try to commit any crimes,” David Won, one of the volunteers, told CNN
Chan also added on that number of people shopping at Oakland’s Chinatown has plummeted after Covid-19 pandemic, causing many businesses to close, and also causing the shortening of operating hours even after the reopen of stores.
The East Bay Taishan Association, a group known for organizing social events such as TaiChi classes also created patrol groups after the increase of anti-Asian attacks in the Bay Area.
Won, a 59-year-old financial services professional who lives in Oakland, saw them while grocery shopping in the neighborhood and became curious about the group. He soon joined the group, and started patroling with them. He stated that he joined the group because ” being out there is the right thing to do.”
Won added on saying that, “I can’t even imagine punching somebody so hard that you’re going to break someone’s nose or pulling someone’s hair out,” Won said about the anti-Asian violent attacks. “I can’t even see how someone could actually even do that to another human being.”
In big cities such as Seattle and New York, similar community watch groups have been arising across the United States.