CHINATOWN, Manhattan — Day and night, the streets of Chinatown used to be bustling, packed with working people and tourists sampling the cuisine and culture.
But now the streets remain close to empty while the rest of the city is gradually reopening. It’s because of the one-two punch of the pandemic and the surging anti-Asian hate crimes.
Newly announced security patrols will hopefully make everyone feel safer
“Any activity that helps the community, helps businesses, I appreciate it,” Ango Ngo, the owner Bo Ky restaurant, told PIX11 News.
The family-owned restaurant on Baxter Street had been a favorite of court officers and jurors with its curried chicken and seafood noodles, but with the pandemic shutting down the nearby courthouses and the surge in anti Asian hate crimes, pedestrian foot traffic and business is off by close to 80%.
The most recent numbers from the NYPD say there have been 62 anti-Asian hate crimes so far this year compared to 12 for the same period last year.
Police Thursday looking for a man who they say made anti-Asian remarks and menaced a 47-year-old woman with a closed fist and aggressive stance in Tribeca on April 1.
“What the hell is going on that makes people so racist that they pick on often older men and women and particularly women?” asked Gale Brewer, the Manhattan Borough President, at a news conference. “It’s insane. The one way to stop is to have more security.”
Brewer joined Chinatown activist Karlin Chan in announcing that Brosnan private security, made up, they say, primarily of retired NYPD officers, will patrol the streets of Chinatown in cars from 4 p.m. to midnight seven nights a week.
“The attacks have not subsided. We had three attacks in the last five days,” Chan said. “Police can’t be everywhere at the same time and this is an added measure of security and reassurance in the neighborhood.”
Brosnan is doing this work pro bono.
“Brosnan is offering free this service to Asian community because we wanted to give back to the community,” said Thomas Caro, a spokesman for Brosnan,
These Brosnan patrols will work with the foot patrols already established by Chan. More than fifty neighbors walk through Chinatown streets in the Chinatown Block Watch patrols.
Some elderly resident feel a little safer, like 88-year-old Mr. Lee.
“Not too scary, more comforting,” Lee said through a translator.
Daniella, a Chinatown Block Watch member, told PIX11 News why she volunteers her time.
“Hopefully, it sends a message that we all care and we’re all doing our best to patrol the area,” she said.