Oakland Chinatown merchants fear safety amid numerous attacks

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Merchants in Oakland’s Chinatown say they still feel uneasy after a string of violent attacks on the Asian American community.

Oakland police toured the city in an effort to share an important message.

Police increased resources to the area for the Lunar New Year, and the community started its own foot patrols.

Additionally, organizations from around the country sent in crime alerting tools.

“So far it’s okay, but it’s still scary. Sometimes you see something suspicious kind of scary. It’s still not totally okay but it’s getting better,” Sweet Booth owner Calvin Tong said.

He says it’s been a relief to see more police and security in the area.

“Not only will it help cut down the crime, but definitely people are feeling much safer. I may have told you over a week ago many seniors were afraid to walk the street, but the past few days they are starting to come out again,” the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Carl Chan, said.

While the increase in police resources and security helped deter robberies in Chinatown during Lunar New Year celebrations over the weekend, Chan says crimes still continue.

It’s why some merchants are now arming themselves.

On Monday night, a woman was being robbed near Pacific Renaissance Plaza when a store owner got involved, took out his gun, and fired shots to stop the robbery.

“A woman walking down the street. She was holding a camera, someone rolled up on her and forcefully took the camera off of her, removed it from her and additionally some of our community members, business owners came out to assist and the circumstances are still being investigated, but rounds were fired,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said.

Police later arrested the merchant for firing his gun.

While Oakland’s new police chief LeRonne Armstrong says he appreciates the community getting involved, he says they don’t want people arming themselves.

“While we understand the community’s concerns about the incidents we’ve seen in Chinatown, we don’t want our business owners or others to begin to arm themselves,” Armstrong said.

Private armed security patrolling the area have also been told not to use their weapons unless it’s a last resort, dire situation.

Meanwhile, Chan says better, long-term solutions are needed to fight crime in the neighborhood, and city-wide.

“We’re trying to find ways to find a long-term solution. When I talk about a long-term solution, I’m not only talking about Chinatown. We have to keep the entire city safe,” Chan said.

The Chinatown Chamber of Commerce says they hope to see a continued police presence even after the Lunar New Year.

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