Chinatown Block Watch Looking For New Volunteers

The Chinatown Block Watch has been patrolling the neighborhood since February 2019, weeks before COVID-19 shut down New York City. CBS2's Cindy Hsu reports.

Video Transcript

- As we see an increase in Asian hate crimes, there's a call for volunteers to help patrol Chinatown in lower Manhattan. CBS 2's Cindy Hsu explains how you can help.

CINDY HSU: These are members of the Chinatown Block Watch. They dress in bright orange and have been patrolling Chinatown since February of last year, when the community had turned into a ghost town weeks before COVID shut down the rest of the city. Now with bias attacks against Asians on the rise, the Block Watch is even more vigilant and patrols the area twice a week.

KARLIN CHAN: We try to de-escalate a situation, or intervene if there's any kind of a physical attack, or if there's verbal abuse, we tried to diffuse it.

CINDY HSU: Karlin Chan is a community activist and started the group. He says the Chinatown area is filled with immigrant families who are struggling. And they're also up against the myth that Asians are what's called the "model minority."

KARLIN CHAN: There's a lot of negative stereotyping about Asians, Chinese-- we all have a lot of money, we're all very successful. But you know, the fact is, one in four Chinese and Asians live in poverty, live below the poverty line in this city.

CINDY HSU: The model minority myth also perpetuates the idea that Asians don't need services or help. But the Block Watch is looking for volunteers from all over. Ben Wolf lives on the Upper East Side and joined the group when he heard about it on Facebook.

BEN WOLF: Just to show a face, just to say someone out there cares. I think that's the best thing I can do.

CINDY HSU: Karlin says Chinatown is getting back on its feet, with about 70% of businesses that survived back open again, and a Block Watch of both young and old watching over a community they love.

KARLIN CHAN: We have some younger millennials in their 20s, which is good, because, you know, I don't run as fast as I used to.

[LAUGHING]

CINDY HSU: The Block Watch patrols the areas Thursdays and Sundays, and they are always looking for more volunteers. In Chinatown, Cindy Hsu, CBS News.

- Thank you, Cindy, for that story. Today marks a National Day of Action and Healing in the wake of the increasing number of anti-Asian hate crimes. The hashtag, maybe you've seen it already, #StopAsianHate, is being used on social media to encourage all of us to stand up for Asian-Americans during this very difficult time. For more information and resources to stop Asian hate, go to our website, CBSNewYork.com.