Different kind of whistleblower campaign aims to increase safety in Chinatown

A grassroots effort in San Francisco is helping to provide hundreds of older people in the city's Chinatown with whistles they can use in case of an attack.

A San Francisco woman is behind the project.

She says she started it Sunday and in less than a week, she's raised enough money to buy thousands. 

They were given out Friday afternoon.

Hundreds of low income seniors who live in Chinatown received whistles as a way to protect themselves.

In Cantonese, volunteers explained how to use the whistles.

They're provided by Ghina Alvarado-Morse, a San Francisco high school math teacher.

She says the recent anti-Asian violence enraged her, a reminder of her Korean grandmother being beaten up many years ago.

"Seeing all that was happening to our Asian elders just reminded me of that. It made me so sad. I couldn't not help," says Alvarado-Morse.

Turning anger into action, she says initially bought two hundred whistles to distribute. That led to a GoFundMe. So far, she says she's been able to buy 9,000 whistles.

Each whistle is on a detachable lanyard so the person wearing in won't get entangled or be dragged if attacked.

71-year-old Wu Shumei says she's grateful for the whistle. She used to take daily walks around Chinatown but stopped because she fears for her safety.

Personal alarms on a key chain were also given out. It's a project started by Jenna Nguyen from San Jose.

She founded EM Collective, a nonprofit to promote Asian culture two years ago, but has now pivoted from a focus on art to activism after the recent attacks on Asians.

Organizers say the Day of Action coincides with the Naturalization Act of 1790. 231 years ago. it was a law the United States Congress passed granting citizenship to white immigrants, but excluded Asians and others.        

"We're trying to use it as a way to modify and collaborate to bring communities together," says Myron Lee, a community organizer.

It's a day to remember the history of racism and embrace people of all cultures, especially defenseless elder

"If it wasn't a pandemic, I would want to go and hug everybody and tell them how much I support them and want to make sure that they're safe," says Alvarado-Morse.

In addition to these events, community leaders are urging people to volunteer with Asian nonprofits and to push companies, big and small , to denounce Asian hate.

To volunteer, visit instagram.com/when_we_come_together.

To donate, visit https://gofund.me/b690a9e2.