Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been nearly 4,000 attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide, according to the Stop AAPI Hate coalition. In Oakland, California, residents have raised funds for private security services in Chinatown, and volunteers have patrolled the neighborhood in groups. This is not the first time this has happened in Oakland — residents put together ad hoc foot patrols following a similar spate of violence in 2012.

Carl Chan is known to many as the unofficial mayor of Chinatown. He founded the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council, serves on the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and has become a spokesperson for a community caught in a surge of racist violence. He said the violence, along with elderly Asians’ people’s mistrust of the police, is nothing new.


Usually, racial violence in our Asian communities is treated as just another story. But we are saying, “No, this is so much larger.” Oakland has received a lot of media coverage, but we know it’s happening nationwide in big cities like New York and Atlanta, and small towns like Stevens Point, Wisconsin and Edison, New Jersey.

I believe the reported incidents make up only a fraction of what we experience. I would say at least 80% of incidents go unreported. People in our community worry that even if the police catch someone, that person will be released one day and then retaliate. And culturally, we’re taught to keep our heads down and not make a big deal out of this sort of thing. Nobody wants to be identified as a victim — there’s a lot of shame in it. They don’t want the whole world to know.

Read the full article about anti-AAPI violence at The Marshall Project