Recently, A horrifying video captured Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, being violently shoved to the ground by a young man while going for a walk in a San Francisco neighborhood. Days later, another video showed a 91-year-old man pushed into the sidewalk in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood. These events and multiple others mark a recent uptick in attacks against elderly Asian-Americans in the Bay Area, generating national outrage.
The president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Carl Chan, reported over 20 assaults in the past two weeks in Oakland’s Chinatown. He states that this concerning trend in violence and burglaries has led to “Our seniors being afraid to walk their own streets.” Earlier this month, mayor Libby Schaff along with other leaders in Oakland’s Chinatown held a news conference where she apologized to the victims of the crimes and addressed her plan moving forward to protect vulnerable Asian-American seniors within the area including reallocated resources for surveillance. Later on, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley declared that a special response unit focused on crimes against Asian American residents and particularly older Asians would be created, stating, “The rapid increase in criminal acts targeted against members of the Asian community, particularly Chinese Americans, who live and work in Alameda County is intolerable”.
Dr. Russel Jeung, one of the leaders of the organization “Stop AAPI Hate” and the chair of the Asian-American Studies Department at San Francisco State University stated that he is still unsure if the recent attacks were hate crimes and racially motivated. He suggests that it was rather the vulnerability of older people walking alone in the neighborhood especially around the holidays. However, Dr. Jeung acknowledges the impact and devastation remarking “The [Asian-American] community is alarmed and upset and we demand justice”.
In midst of these tragic incidents, there has been adversity and community spotlighted throughout the Bay Area. One Oakland resident, Jacob Azevedo took to social media after these attacks offering to walk with anyone in Chinatown. Within days, Azevdo’s individual efforts turned into a list of more than 300 volunteers leading to the creation of Compassion in Oakland, a volunteer organization that promotes safety and community in their neighborhood as seen on their Instagram page (@/compassioninoakland).
If you want to find ways to help the Asian-American community during this time, please refer to this link: https://nymag.com/strategist/article/where-to-donate-to-help-asian-communities-2021.html