OAKLAND, Calif. - For the last two years, crime against Asians has ramped up to levels requiring the government to seriously step in across the country. However, "one size fits all" to anti-Asian crime is not working well.
Oakland's Vietnamese merchants say diversity without equality, is dangerous. Twenty Vietnamese-American business owners want better protection for Oakland's Little Saigon.
"We can't rely on goodwill alone to make sure we are represented," said Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce leader Dr. Jennifer Kim-Anh Tran.
Little Saigon, which stretches from 2nd to 14th Avenue along International Boulevard and East 12th Street, is a little-known community. But crime in the area, from within and without, has become intolerable to businesses with everything from street thuggery to organized theft to street racing and sideshows.
"We don't have representation. Whether it's from our elected officials to our educators to the people who are meant to protect us, to serve us. That's why we have been organizing." said Tran.
The immigrants who came to the area fled Vietnam to save their very lives. They came to build an economy, a neighborhood, and a society.
They have enough trouble dealing with the shaky economy and inflation. They don't need anything else for anyone else making life miserable.
Their plight and their fight are simple, get adequate and equal police protection as well as government and non-governmental agencies to invest and be present in Oakland's many culturally diverse communities.
"For the Vietnamese community, the Hmong community, the Cambodian community, the Laotian community, it's a whole different world view. And so, lumping people together under the whole AAPI umbrella is a huge umbrella that causes a lot of harm," said Oakland City Council President Pro Tem and Mayoral Candidate Sheng Tao.
The other chambers of commerce that represent the Chinatown, African-American, and Latino communities, support them.
"Currently we are hearing our customers talking about where not to go. They are not talking about where to shop. They're talking about where to avoid going into," said Oakland Chinatown of Commerce's Carl Chen.
One market owner said her customers worry about shopping because Oakland is not safe. She also feels that because the Vietnamese community is small the city does not care.
Lynn Truong, another store owner, said, "Old people, they worry to go out shopping. After 4 p.m. everybody closes their store."