Oakland, CA

Local Neighbourhood Foot Patrol In Oakland Protects The Asian Community

Nya Crea

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After the Atlanta shootings, the hashtag #stopasianhate has been trending all over social media.

But why do we always have to wait until a tragedy like this happens to condemn such crimes?

We should all follow the example of Jay Bounphengsy, a Laotian American living in California, who started a daily neighbourhood foot patrol across the Bay Area after witnessing a series of violent attacks on elderly Asians.

"I just want people to stop attacking us for no reason, especially our elderlies and kids. We've been a target until the virus hit, and before that, we always got discriminated, now it has gotten worse and I can't sit back and do anything about it"

Jay, along with his family, neighbours and friends have been patroling the Chinatown district of Oakland in California to keep an eye on the situation.

My grandma walked every day to collect cans, and I can only imagine if someone did something to my grandparents, my mom, my dad, or anyone else

Jay's words touch a delicate matter which was the recent surge of robberies and attacks on older Asians in the Bay Area.

The latest events affected the community deeply and one of the attacks resulted in the death of Vicha Ratanapakdee an 84-year-old immigrant man from Thailand, which was just returning from his vaccine dose.

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After Jay's initiative started, a few more locals joined the neighbourhood patrol. The main goal of it is to bring positivity and a sense of security to their local community. They explain that their actions are pacific and don't have any racial connotations, the neighbourhood initiative aims to protect their community and the most fragile people in it.

After getting on a call with Jay, I learned that they start patrolling the area in the evening around 8 o'clock when all the stores are closing. This way, they can make sure that their community is safe and protected from any threat. All the recent events made people, mostly the elderly, feel afraid to walk alone at night so, they also offer a ride to anyone who needs it.

The reason why we do that is that our people don't have any protection at night. Some stores close at 8 o'clock and they are a real easy target coming out of the store at that time. We want to make sure that they are closing safely, we let them know that we're there for them.
Every time we patrol we also watch the stores closing from a distance to make the people feel safe and to make sure that they don't think that we're trying to rob them.
I'm a truck driver, and I recently took some time off from my job to do this. I cannot focus on protecting the people if I'm working a full-time job, so I had to take a little break because this is the time to step up and come together.
My people and I are risking our lives every day, plus we don't look like typical Asians, we're South-East Asian, we're Laotians. All that matters is that we just want to show that we're here for our people. We're trying to set an example for our future generations as well because if we don't do it now, what else do we have?

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During our conversation, Bounphengsy explained he just came back from the valley, and he and his friends and family were getting ready to go back to patrolling the area again.

Change has been quite obvious, mostly in Oakland, where the movement had started.

People have noticed that there is now someone protecting them, they feel safer and more confident and started going out again.

Jay's ultimate goal is to go back to when things were calmer, and the community was living in peace and unity.

#StopAsianHate

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I love to set trends, my field of expertise is music and entertainment but I also love to talk about lifestyle and what's trending at the moment. Expect to find interesting tips, music advice and interviews but also food blogging (yes I'm a foodie), pretty much, anything that interests me or sparks my attention, I promise to bring it to you!

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