Merchants and residents in Oakland’s Chinatown are pleading for help after a massive spike in violent attacks in recent weeks.
Merchants say there have been more than 20 attacks recently, criminals are getting more violent, and they need help now.
Local gift shop owner Kenneth Lam is still shaken over what happened outside his shop Sunday morning.
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Surveillance video shows he and his wife struggling with three women he says tried robbing the shop and stealing the Chinese New Years trees. The women nearly ran the couple over as they drove away.
“I got scared when they said they were going to try to kill me, literally,” said Lam. “Something definitely needs to be done.”
Just the day before, another attack took place at a nearby store in which someone robbed a customer of his cash.
“Asians are being targeted, and unfortunately they’re also targeting our seniors,” said Carl Chan of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.
On Wednesday, the Asian community gathered to plead for help. They asked for a return of walking police patrols and city surveillance cameras. With the lunar new year just a few weeks away, they fear the spike in crime will only get worse.
“They appear to be more violent for whatever reason, and that’s why we need this to stop before something even more heinous occurs,” said Oakland Police Capt. Bobby Hookfin.
City leaders acknowledge that Oakland is financially strapped and the police budget has been dramatically cut, but they say they are reallocating police to beef up their presence there.
“The intentional targeting of Asian merchants and residents is abhorrent and we will do everything within our power and resources to put an end to it,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff.
Sendy Giang said she was shot in the head by a man with a flare gun for no reason last month.
“It’s really scary, it’s not something I can use words to express,” she said. “I felt something really hot like something dropped from the sky on my head, and then I felt pain.”
She said Chinatown has never experienced a wave of crime like this before and people don’t feel safe.