CHINATOWN, Manhattan — Some speak Mandarin, others Cantonese.
They are part of the growing volunteer Safewalks patrols in Chinatown. Armed with just their identifiable safety patrol vests and some flyers, more than 50 volunteers offer to escort anyone who asks for help walking from the subway, bus or any other public area to their destination.
There’s an added police presence in Chinatown as well as the number of anti-Asian hate crimes continues to grow.
“We’re not trying to sell them anything even the way we hold the flyer hold it out words less aggressive we’re doing it for them,” said Owen Jiang.
It’s a simple message, but one that needs an establishment and implication of safety.
“If someone comes up to you at the subway and says, ‘can I walk you home?’ it’s the last thing you want to hear,” said volunteer Luke Miller. “So that’s why we’ve been trying to be a consistent presence to show who we are to the community.”
More than 1,800 people have signed up to volunteer for these patrols in 2-hour shifts.
Karlin Chan, a longtime Chinatown activist, who started block patrols at the start of the pandemic, welcomes the group.
“Chinatown needs all the help it can get,” Chan said.
One volunteer believes it’s about coming together to keep New Yorkers safe.
“We need to show our humanity. We can’t let people hurt our seniors, our elders,” said Lisa Gold.
If you would like to request a walk, you can go to their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram message @SafeWalksNYC.