Before sunset Monday, a few dozen Asian-Americans outfitted in neon vests and jackets combed the streets of this New York City neighborhood.
They weren’t police officers. They were students, retail workers and retirees equipped with little more than a cellphone in the event they came across someone being harassed or attacked. Their mission: to stop would-be attackers from hurting other Asians, whether it be by calling the police for help or stepping in themselves.
“It’s made me feel sick,” said volunteer Wan Chen, 37, of the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes around the country. “So this is the time we need to speak up and try our best to help. If anyone tries to do anything, maybe they’ll think twice.”
Volunteer groups such as this one have sprung up around the U.S., patrolling the streets of Asian communities from New York City to Oakland, Calif. They have multiple goals: to escort individuals worried about their safety where they need to go, check in on community members, and if needed, intervene if they see someone being harassed. [Continue reading…]