SF Chinese community faces fallout from Yee, 'Shrimp Boy' arrests

Chinese community leaders in SF are addressing fallout from the corruption case involving State Sen. Yee and a reputed gangster.
April 16, 2014 8:08:57 PM PDT
Chinese American community leaders say the public corruption case involving suspended State Senator Leland Yee and convicted gang leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow is unfairly impacting the community at large.

Those leaders who spoke with ABC7 News want the public to know that the community was just as shocked as everyone else when those indictments came down. They say they are concerned about comments they heard and read in the aftermath of the indictments that are extremely offensive to the community.

Thirty-eight Chinese American leaders signed an open letter to the public. They say the corruption and gang scandal involving suspended State Sen. Yee and reputed Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow has cast a dark shadow over an entire community.

"The level of virulence that we've been seeing around the public response I think is very troubling," said Malcom Yeung, with the Asian and Pacific Islander Counsel.

"We're basically here to say that we got to cool it on some of the racial and community stereotyping that's going on," added Rev. Norman Fong, with the Chinatown Community Development Center.

And San Francisco Recreation and Park Commissioner Allan Low said, "Many of the organizations should not be wrapped up into the discussions of Shrimp Boy or Leland Yee or gang warfare in Chinatown."

They say all the publicity has stirred up old stereotypes of Chinatown, the gang warfare, and secret societies.

"Secret societies and gangs and that kind of stuff," Rev. Fong said. "That kind of stuff got cleaned up quite a while back."

Reverend Norman Fong has heard it all before and now again, "Wow, is Chinatown really that bad, for example," he said. "And, did Leland control things in Chinatown?"

Point of fact, suspended Senator Leland Yee doesn't even represent Chinatown. He's from the city's Western District.

Community leaders are also worried that the public may now think all Tongs are involved in crime, just because Raymond Chow belonged to one.

The Tongs are fraternal organizations that care for its members who may have the same surname or come from a particular village in China. Even a church is called a Tong -- Gao Tong.

And finally they worry that the scandal has cast doubts over the integrity of Chinese American politicians.

"There are many elected officials who are Asian American who are doing the right thing," Low said. "And that's where the attention should be."

As the community leaders said -- two people, whether innocent or guilty, do not define an entire community.


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