OAKLAND (KPIX) — Bay Area Asian community leaders said the string of recent attacks against seniors is just the tip of the iceberg. They said victims often don’t report the crimes to police.
Just as the George Floyd video forced Americans to see that police brutality against Black Americans is a real issue, recent videos show unprovoked attacks on Asian seniors are another serious problem it’s time to confront.
“With these videos, people are finally seeing that it’s actually happening,” said Carl Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.
He said such attacks go back decades. What is new is they’re now caught on camera and, with social media, it is easier for people to see and share them and organize to call out the injustice.
“Probably less than 20 percent (are) being reported … so there are so many cases out there but I’m so glad that the videos are doing justice and starting to let people understand there are cases. There are actually many more,” Chan said.
Whether it’s a hate crime or a crime of opportunity, community members said most Asian victims are afraid to report them.
“No reporting by the older generation, basically it’s like an embarrassment (for them),” explained Warren Dang, an Alameda resident.
It’s hard to get accurate numbers but those who spoke to KPIX believe these attacks on Asians and Asian seniors are on the rise and are becoming more violent.
The chairman of the East Bay Toishan Association, Joe Ma, is constantly telling victims it’s not their fault and there’s no shame in reporting a crime.
“We encourage business owners in Chinatown to report robberies and burglaries to the police. Some of them don’t believe the cases will get solved or speaking up will make a difference,” Ma said in Cantonese.
Chan believes a newly-appointed police liaison officer who speaks Chinese will remove the language barrier when it comes to reporting violent crime.
“We are not only advocating for the Asian seniors, we’re talking about (all) seniors, no matter who you are, where you are. It’s about time for us to do something to keep our seniors safe,” Chan said.
Chan is organizing a rally Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Oakland’s Chinatown.
Mayor Libby Schaaf said that, with the new American Rescue Plan money from the federal government, she hopes to reverse the cuts made to the police department. The goal would be to bring back foot-patrol officers in Chinatown and other parts of the city.