'Prosperity, health and safety': Lunar New Year brings celebrations, crime concerns for Oakland

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, January 28, 2024
Lunar New Year brings celebrations and crime concerns for Oakland
The Lunar New Year brings celebrations and crime concerns for Oakland community.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In the East Bay, there was an early celebration of Lunar New Year. The Year of the Dragon is being celebrated in Oakland's Chinatown this weekend with its annual festival. Many hope the street party can help move the community forward after the killing of an OPD officer.

Lion Dancers were celebrating the Year of the Dragon in Oakland's Chinatown. It's believed they will bring good luck and fortune.

"If I have one Lunar New Year wish, I'm asking all of you to support our businesses -- not only in Chinatown -- but throughout the city," said Carl Chan from Oakland Chinatown Chamber Foundation.

MORE: Golden Globe-winner Awkwafina named Grand Marshal of SF's 2024 Chinese New Year Parade

The annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Bazaar is a chance to help support small businesses and celebrate Asian culture.

"A lot of elderly folks tell me they love this. It gives them time to come out and enjoy the weather and their favorite foods," said Douglas Wong from Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council.

This year, organizers hope the festival means a chance to move forward from a violent start to 2024, following the shooting death of Oakland Police officer Tuan Le.

"Today, we'll try and change the atmosphere. We're trying to bring more festivities and celebrations in our city," Chan said.

MORE: 4 suspects involved in death of fallen OPD officer plead not guilty, hope for speedy pre-trial

All four men charged in connection to the murder of Oakland Police Officer Tuan Le pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.

"We need all of us coming together to make these changes," Chan said.

Chan says those changes include safer streets.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao shared her wish for the new year.

"The wish is always prosperity, health and safety," Thao said.

The wish for safety may be challenging. Kaiser Permanente reportedly sent a memo to its Oakland employees, recommending they eat lunch inside company buildings over safety concerns.

MORE: Community sad with In-N-Out's decision to close Oakland location due to crime

In-N-Out Burger recently announced it will close its location in Oakland claiming rising crime is making it unsafe for customers and employees.

And In-N-Out Burger recently announced it's closing its only Oakland restaurant due to a wave of car break-ins and robberies.

"I brought back the walking police officers, overtime officers that are in uptown, downtown, Chinatown," Thao said.

Thao believes the reinstatement of Operation Cease Fire will help. A recent city audit says it led to a substantial dip in the city's homicide rate: 42% in five years from 2012 to 2017 and saved an estimated 140 lives. The program identifies those likely to commit crimes providing them with mentoring, life coaching and job resources.

"Once we capture these people and bring them to justice, we will see the crime go down, including burglaries and homicides," Thao said.

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