OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A Buddhist chant closed out a meeting between Oakland's Black and Asian communities. The meeting was an attempt to forge unity.
"There is a misunderstanding, and it's always been that way, between the African American community and the Asian community," said Pastor Phyllis Scott. She is president of the Pastors of Oakland Association.
She says for decades, stereotypes and misinformation have created tension between the two communities here Oakland.
"It's generations of pouring into us that they don't like us. That they think we are all gangsters," she said. "There are certain businesses that are closing. They feel that they are closing because the Asian population is taking over. And the Asian population closed because they feel they can't stay open because of violence."
But then came the killing of Oakland Police Officer Tuan Le in December. The two men accused of shooting Officer Le, who was of Vietnamese descent, are both Black.
Le, 36, was shot and killed while responding to a burglary at a cannabis business near Jack London Square in Oakland early Friday. He was with the department for almost four years.
"He was them. He was a police, provider and protector of the Asian community. I get it," Scott said.
"His demise was a trigger," said Stewart Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council. "This hits home harder."
Chan says calls for unity are even more important now, following Officer's Le death -- adding that stereotypes of Oakland not being safe make the city even more unsafe.
"We face the same issues. We face the same problems. Instead of finger pointing, let's unite. And come together with a solution," he said.
Also in attendance were Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price and members of the Oakland City Council.
"There are things that (city council) can do and there are actions that we can take to bring our communities together. We can use our platforms to encourage meetings like this. We can lift up when things are noting in the city," said City Councilmember Carroll Fife.
Scott says more of these types of meeting are important, not just to unite both sides, but to also help both sides to heal.
"Have those two communities come together and yeah, say those things. Say those things that are difficult to say. And then hear the answers," she said.
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