'Condemning violence': Oakland Chinatown rally draws large crowd

Saturday, February 13, 2021
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A crowd of more than one thousand people gathered in Oakland's Madison Park Saturday afternoon near the city's Chinatown.

Billed as a vigil for the victims of recent acts of violence against the Asian community, it was also an uplifting moment of unity.

RELATED: Oakland police restore community resource officers to Chinatown after recent attacks

"I was very moved seeing people standing at the edges of the grass," said Dr. Jennifer Tran, who emceed the event, referring to the large crowd that filled most of the park.

"It's about the people who have been impacted by the recent incidents, this is about condemning violence against our Asian elders and communities," said Tran. But she added, the large crowd, "just meant others are listening."

Chien Nguyen didn't originally plan on coming, but said he was urged by other business owners to share his story.

Nguyen is the owner of Quickly, a tea shop in Oakland's Little Saigon.

VIDEO: Oakland Chinatown leaders plead for more police protection
Oakland Chinatown leaders plead for more police protection

On Thursday, Feb. 11 his security cameras captured one of his customers being robbed as she left the shop.

She was about to get into her car when another car pulled up and a suspect got out and stole her purse.

"She had her son in the back seat," said Nguyen. "Two or three minutes later, my mom came with my daughter. I don't know how I'd feel if that happened to my mom. I'd go crazy."

Nguyen said he immediately contacted police as well as a group of volunteer community safety patrols. He said the volunteer patrols responded within five minutes. But he said a police officer still has not come by to take a statement or gather the surveillance video.

"Two days and they still haven't responded. That's way too long," said Nguyen.

RELATED: Shocking video shows 91-year-old man pushed to ground in Oakland's Chinatown

But the issue of adding more police resources to Oakland is part of a wider discussion that accelerated during the social justice protests in 2020.

"The responsibility of community safety isn't all on police," said Mike Lok, an Oakland resident who came wearing a shirt calling for "Asian Black Unity."

"There's a history in which the African American and Asian communities have come together in common cause," said Lok.

In a statement from Mayor Libby Schaaf, she revealed they will be a re-instating a police liaison in Chinatown, saying "The horrific targeting of victims based on race or nationality has no place in our diverse, sanctuary city of Oakland. We will restore these officers - as so many in the community have demanded - while at the same time invest in non-police safety measures as well.

RELATED: Oakland's Chinatown on edge after more than 20 reported robberies

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong explained the role of the liaison "is designed to bridge cultural gaps and language barriers, open the channels of communication, work together to build trusting relationships, and increase community safety."

Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunado Bas said she welcomed the news.

"I'm happy to hear due to community concern that person will be restored and be able to serve the community again," she said.

Though, she was looking forward to the the work of Oakland's Reimagine Public Safety Task Force which was created in July of 2020.

A survey on the task force's website poses the question "Instead of continuing to spend so many resources on policing, what else could the City do to keep its residents safe?"
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