Provide Safety Ambassadors & prevent Hate Crimes on elderly in San Francisco Chinatown

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This campaign is urging San Francisco Mayor London Breed, District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin & the Board of Supervisors to create a Chinatown Community Benefits District (CBD) to protect Chinatown residents. At its bare minimum, we respectfully request the CBD to train, hire & employ Safety Ambassadors as a reassuring presence; particularly as a response to the Pandemic's (1) increased violence against the elderly Asian Americans, (2) decreased tourist foot traffic that may have previously shielded them, and (3) increased racism, poverty and desperation that may be motivating assault and burglaries.

THE PROBLEM

In March of 2020, NBC reported 650 acts of racism, xenophobia and anti-Asian hate crimes across the country over the [ week of 3/19/2020 - 3/26/2020 : LINK]. In response, volunteers began patrolling SF Chinatown (LINK). Almost a year later, in February 2021, we continue to see a week full of anti-Asian American Hate Crimes, little media coverage, and impunity:

  • Feb 2, an 84 years old Thai man was killed after being pushed in San Francisco (link)
  • Feb 4, an elderly Chinese man is shoved and thrown to the ground in Oakland's Chinatown (link)
  • Feb 4, In New York City, a Filipino Man is slashed across the face (link)
  • Feb 5, In San Jose a Vietnamese grandmother is robbed and assaulted (link)
  • Feb 2, A Chinese Man is robbed at gunpoint in front of his home in Oakland (link)

And in that same week, I lost a family member in LA Chinatown. After missing for 6 days (with no media coverage) she was found robbed and near dead. This has gone on long enough.

A SOLUTION

Volunteer patrols are thoughtful -- but they take on their own risks, may not be trained/experienced, and do not have any accountability to the city or its stakeholders. Some businesses have already resorted to paying for security and protection. This petition is calling for an organized and funded team of SAFETY AMBASSADORS as a reassuring presence and safety escorts for tenants, residents, and visitors. 

This is happening in other parts of the city; WHY NOT IN CHINATOWN? 

Through their Community Benefits District, Yerba Buena property owners have their own bike patrol officer (14 hours/day on weekdays + 12 hours/day on weekends) in addition to existing police services. (LINK). Similarly, Downtown Oakland Community Benefit District has 30 full-time, highly visible Ambassadors circulating throughout downtown, devoting extraordinary care to the public rights of way, and providing safety, hospitality, and maintenance. (LINK).

Mayor London Breed herself says “Community Benefit Districts keep our communities, clean, safe, and vibrant... These organizations create and implement effective, equity-based solutions and make it possible for everyone to benefit from cleaner and safer streets.” (2019 LINK)

As some people may not be familiar, COMMUNITY BENEFIT DISTRICTS ARE

  • voted upon, established, and funded by property owners in the area 
  • a partnership between the City and local communities
  • administered by a non-profit organization established by the neighborhood

This means property owners in Chinatown would pay a special assessment to fund improvements in their neighborhood and establish a non-profit organization to manage those funds and improvements like the Safety Ambassador Program

Currently, San Francisco has 17 CBDs that raise between $500,0000- $6 million a year (LINK):

  • Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District ($818,991)
  • Civic Center Community Benefit District ($3,178,521)
  • Discover Polk Community Benefit District  ($635,238)
  • Downtown Community Benefit District ($4,005,975)
  • The East Cut Community Benefit District ($4,316,673)
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District ($1,218,900)
  • Japantown Community Benefit District ($393,750)
  • Lower Polk Community Benefit District ($897,553)
  • Mid Market Community Benefit District  ($1,694,614)
  • Moscone Expansion District
  • Noe Valley Community Benefit District ($248,541)
  • Ocean Avenue Community Benefit District ($339,580)
  • SoMa West Community Benefit District ($3,859,195)
  • North of Market/Tenderloin Community Benefit District ($2,043,877)
  • Tourism Improvement District
  • Union Square Business Improvement District ($6,019,719)
  • Yerba Buena Community Benefit District ($3,151,268)

Conclusion

We are calling for Mayor London Breed, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and the entire Board of Supervisors to create a Chinatown Community Benefits District to train and fund an Ambassador Program aimed at reassuring safety -- or put it on the ballot for the area to enact. We truly believe attacks are less likely to take place when people are around -- it is not our intention to increase police presence. We hope to keep Chinatown a safe space for the non-English speaking, the elderly, and the low-income residents. Thank you to the volunteers who have already done what they can!

Please also sign this petition: Get Mainstream News Coverage Of National Elderly Asian American Assaults

Edit: an earlier version referenced a February 11, 2020 attack on an Oakland man in his home. Sadly, there was another similar incident in 2021.

Photo by Ron Koeberer/Getty Images