HomeAsian AmericansVeterans volunteer to combat coronavirus racism in San Francisco's Chinatown

Veterans volunteer to combat coronavirus racism in San Francisco’s Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown. (Photo by Geoff Peters/Wikimedia Commons)

The coronavirus is unleashing Asian American xenophobia, and a San Francisco is deciding to respond.

Veterans from the Army, Navy, and Marines have formed the SF Peace Collective, which patrols San Francisco’s streets and, if necessary, will intervene if any hate crime occurs against Chinatown residents. SF Peace Collective’s founder, Max Leung, believes the volunteers’ self-defense and first aid training will be useful.

A Facebook post showing some of the SF Peace Collective in Chinatown.

Leung wanted to create the SF Peace Collective well before the coronavirus outbreak, but said seeing viral videos of xenophobic attacks on Asian Americans motivated him to officially start it on March 19.

“It’s just a lot of these incidents don’t get reported; they don’t make the news,” Leung said in an interview with NBC Asian America. “So that’s why we started, and the timing is just crazy with the COVID-19 thing.”

Some have stepped forward to volunteer after hearing reports of vandalism, muggings, robberies, and beatings, from as far as Milipitas and San Jose, according to a volunteer’s Facebook post.

The group does a mixture of car and walking patrols in three to four-hour shifts, aiding residents and local businesses. Response to the SF Peace Collective has been positive and supportive, with residents expressing desire to donate face masks and other supplies. (The group also set up a GoFundMe a week ago.)

So far, the SF Peace Collective has not had to step in to stop anti-Asian attacks, but that doesn’t mean incidents haven’t happened. Across the country, Asian Americans have reported over 650 acts of xenophobia since March 18, including hate crimes and verbal and physical attacks, according to a recent report. Those who have experienced such attacks can report them to Stop AAPI Hate by filling out an incident form in English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, or Khmer.

San Francisco researchers reported over 1,000 cases of xenophobia against Chinese American communities between Jan. 28 and Feb. 24, according to American Progress.

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