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Asian Americans are patrolling streets across the US to keep their elders safe

Carl Chan was walking in Oakland's Chinatown on his way to meet an Asian elder who had been attacked when a stranger called him a racial slur and hit him on the head.

"I am so fortunate to be able to live another day to tell my story," Chan told CNN.

As president of the neighborhood's chamber of commerce, Chan has closely seen how the Covid-19 pandemic and the wave of attacks on older Asians are keeping customers away. While police arrested a suspect, Chan says the April 29 incident motivated him even more to join a community foot patrol group.

From coast to coast, volunteer groups have emerged in the past year to patrol Asian neighborhoods in an effort to deter the racism and violent attacks that people of Asian descent have been subjected to in the past year.


Similar community watch groups have been created in several cities across the United States, including Seattle and New York.

At least four other groups in Oakland have patrolled the streets in the past year, trying to keep elders safe. Meanwhile, an emergency response team in San Jose, California, known for providing aid during natural disasters created a patrol unit in the city's Japantown.

Wan Chen, 37, couldn't "just sit around doing nothing" earlier this year when attacks surged in New York. At first, Chen tried contacting some of the victims, asking if they needed help because of language and cultural barriers.

"A lot of them were afraid just to even talk about what happened to them," Chen said.

Chen and a few others founded a group called Public Safety Patrol in Flushing, New York. About two dozen people, including city workers, waiters, students and drivers, have signed up to patrol with the group since March. Each shift, a person is responsible of video recording, another would take notes and a third person is responsible of communicating with police officers or community members.