By Kelsie Smith, CNN
February 15, 2021 Hundreds of volunteers signed up to accompany older Asian Americans in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood to help keep them safe.
(CNN)Jacob Azevedo’s stomach turned as he watched a disturbing video of an 84-year-old Thai American man who was fatally shoved to the ground on a sidewalk in San Francisco.
It was the second video of an unprovoked attack on an elderly Asian American that Azevedo, a resident of Oakland, had seen on social media out of the Bay Area within an hour, he told CNN.
Ever since the world learned of the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, harassment and violence targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has rapidly increased across the United States.
More than 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from 47 states and the District of Columbia were reported between March 19 and December 31, 2020, with 7.3% of those incidents involving Asian Americans over the age of 60, according to a report by Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition documenting anti-Asian hate and discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent surge in attacks on older Asian Americans in the Bay Area has heightened concerns among activist and leaders in the community.
Exhausted by the violence, Azevedo offered on social media to walk with anyone in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood to help them feel safe.
“I wasn’t intending to be some kind of vigilante,” Azevedo, 26, told CNN. “I just wanted to offer people some kind of comfort.”His idea quickly resonated throughout the community and within days he had nearly 300 volunteers reaching out to join him to protect the community in a project now called Compassion in Oakland.