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Oakland's Chinatown Asks Governor To Send More Police Following Spike In Crime

Chinatown's Blue Angels

The Blue Angels, Chinatown’s new volunteer patrol team, marched through the neighborhood Tuesday. They asked for donations to help two bystanders who tried to stop a recent robbery.

"One got shot twice and the other one got pistol-whipped," says Carl Chan, President of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

The crime took place on the sidewalk, in broad daylight. The gunmen escaped.

Oakland voted last month to divert funding away from its police department, toward social services. The move continues to provoke controversy, as homicides are up almost 70% in Oakland since 2020, according to the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Chan says violent crime has shot up in Chinatown since the city council’s decision, and perpetrators are using guns more often. "People are afraid to walk on the streets," he says.

That’s why the Blue Angels formed, to try to protect the neighborhood. They are about 30 men and women wearing blue safety vests — some elderly, one just 14 years old. Warren Chu, with the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, says their presence on the streets helps, but there's only so much unarmed volunteers can do. "It needs to be addressed a little bit further," says Chu.

The Chinatown Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, asking him to declare a state of emergency. The letter stated that criminals are exploiting the under-funded Oakland police force, and requested that the Governor send California Highway Patrol and state law enforcement officers. Governor Newsom granted the request last week.

City Councilmember Loren Taylor did not sign the letter. He says we cannot ignore the citizens’ call for increased protection, but bringing in the CHP is not the only solution. He says any agency that Oakland partners with should commit to adhering to the city's standards of accountability and transparency.