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How violent crime in Oakland’s Chinatown impacts business

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Business in Oakland Chinatown suffered this weekend after a violent couple of days in the neighborhood this week.

Surveillance video captured the two consecutive attacks that happened on Thursday and Friday.

KRON4’s Taylor Bisacky spoke with store owners and shoppers about the impact of these recent robberies.

Already, many store owners here in Oakland Chinatown are taking precautions and closing down before dawn. A lot of them have also installed surveillance cameras but with the continued violent attacks during broad daylight, many of them are at their wit’s end on how to fight this problem. 

A quiet day in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood on Sunday.

Owner of Sweet Both, Calvin Tong, says it’s been this way all weekend — especially after word traveled about the recent attacks.

“Don’t like it. I don’t really like it and because there are more incidents, it affects my business too,” Tong said. “There’s a lot of customers who are afraid to come to Chinatown.”

Video shows the most recent attack that happened Friday afternoon. Three suspects assaulted and robbed two women in broad daylight. And just the day before, in the same area, another violent robbery happened.

Two suspects were seen robbing an elderly man on the ground a and when another man tried to help, he was pistol-whipped.

“Disappointed,” Alice Ching said. “I definitely think it’s unwarranted that the elderly are being picked off as easy targets.”

Whenever walking around Chinatown, Ching says she’s on high alert.

“Always be conscious of my surroundings and try to walk with people,” she said.

Meanwhile many store owners have increased their surveillance in the last few months.

“Installed the cameras because I want to catch bad people who come into my store, do bad things,” Tong said.

“I myself and many of us feel very angry about the situation because you know we thought things were getting much much better when we had patrols coming in and the police presence,” Carl Chan said. “But I guess once the budget issue came out and ended June 30, we’re realizing there are some cuts already in patrols so we’re seeing a spike in crime happen in Chinatown.”

Chan is president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. He says they lost foot patrols earlier this month and many stores are now concerned about the future of this area.

“Seeing many of the small businesses in Chinatown, they have decided to close earlier,” Chan said. “So even during the pandemic they closed earlier but now they want to close even earlier than before so what it means? It means we’ll be losing a lot of the fair share of business especially customers are scared to come to Chinatown.”

Chan says he’s been writing to city councilmembers — pleading to bring back some of the budget for more foot patrols in Chinatown.

This past year, many community groups have formed in Oakland’s Chinatown to protect this neighborhood. One group, known as Protect Oakland Chinatown, has raised more than $27,000 to install more cameras in the neighborhood.