San Francisco veterans patrol group battles hate crimes and racism against Asians

SAN FRANCISCO — Before the shelter-in-place order, millions of San Francisco’s annual visitors would find themselves in SF Chinatown for the food and shopping experience.

However, since the coronavirus pandemic — Chinatown has become a scene of various reported and unreported hate crimes against the Asian and Asian American community.

Leanna Louie, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, helped create the United Peace Corps, or UPC — a volunteer watch group of military veterans and citizens committed to the safety of those in Chinatown.

“It’s really disheartening. It feels awful to see that going on. You know, and I think a lot of times people will say, oh, it’s not happening to me. So it’s not happening at all. It’s not true. You’re, you’re denying it. Okay? We have to know it is happening. It’s video taped. There’s proof. And we have to acknowledge that is happening and we need to help each other.”

According to Louie, UPC has a total of 16 active members, who take turns patrolling Chinatown seven days a week.

“For those who have cars, you can team up with one person. You can do a vehicle patrol. There is a route that we have. We have a standard operating procedure that’s already in place. So for any member that is fully recruited, we will break them down on that. And we also have a foot patrol.”

UPC members have the support of San Francisco police after being briefed on the boundaries in terms of what they can and can’t do.

Primarily, UPC records and reports crimes or racist activities to the authorities.

They have also helped in directing medical attention to those in need.

“Chinatown, in particular, has many elderly people. At this time many shops are closed. The same elderly people still need to go out for their daily walk. And if something was to happen, if they were to slip and fall or have a medical incident, there may or may not be somebody there to provide assistance,” said Michael Goodwin. “Anybody can make a phone call to the police and address their concerns. And we are just in the same spirit, also demonstrating that if you see something, you can say something.”

While UPC members are happy to help, they hope their actions can also inspire the Asian American community.

“It seems like what happened to us in the 60s, 70s, and 80s is happening today. So when we come out and what we’re trying to tell the people is to stand up now. We have to be loud. If you don’t tell them now, when are you going to stand up? If you don’t stand up, or say anything, it just continues,” said Robert Lowe.

UPC said they are still welcoming volunteers, and prior military experience is not necessary.

For more information, call Louie at 415-310-8412.

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