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Citizens patrol California's Chinatown after unprovoked attacks

Written by on February 10, 2021

Bay Area residents have begun banding together to patrol the streets of Oakland’s Chinatown in response to a wave of unprovoked attacks and robberies on residents.

The loosely formed citizen patrols began earlier this week after several high-profile cases – including an attack on a 91-year-old who was assaulted out on the street. The attacks have been inflicted primarily on the neighborhood’s Asian community.   

Thousands pack Franklin, Eighth and the surrounding streets to attend the 27th annual Chinatown StreetFest in Oakland, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. 

Thousands pack Franklin, Eighth and the surrounding streets to attend the 27th annual Chinatown StreetFest in Oakland, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014.  (San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Jimmy Bounphensy, a trucker from San Jose who is leading one of the volunteer patrols, told KTVU: “We’re all in this fight together.”

“Stop all this racism. I’m here for Chinatown, for the people,” he said.

Kelly Means, who joined Bounphensy in the effort, told the station he sympathizes with the people being targeted because he also comes from an immigrant family.

“I feel the pain. My mother being robbed on a bus. My auntie being beat and robbed for her necklace,” Means said.

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The report comes after the Alameda District Attorney on Monday announced three assault charges against Yahya Muslim, the suspect in the attack on the 91-year-old as well as two other victims – ages 55 and 60 – on the same day.

Oakland’s Chinatown – and the city at large – has experienced an uptick in crime in recent months that many say was brought on by the economic impact of the pandemic as well as the city’s move to strip the police department’s budget.

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Police said last week they will reallocate resources and patrols to Chinatown ahead of the Lunar New Year on Friday.  

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