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.
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.”
Azevedo, who is of Hispanic descent, believes this is a moment for all minority groups to stand in solidarity with the Asian American community. He said people from all racial backgrounds and ages reached out to him sharing the same desire to help support the community.
“This is important because this community just needs healing,” Azevedo said. “There’s a lot of racial tensions going on because of the previous president’s rhetoric but in general our communities need healing. This is an issue that’s been ongoing for a while.”
Stop APPI Hate Co-Founder, Cynthia Choi, told CNN that crime and violence is nothing new to the Asian community.
“This is a problem and issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention, especially in low income communities,” Choi said. ” And of course the pandemic, I think has exacerbated the conditions and exposed racial disparities.”
Choi said in times of crisis when vulnerable people are being targeted it’s heartwarming to see community members come out and take action.
“In Oakland, they’re planning this action and it’s really less about controlling and more about supporting the community and showing up,” she said. “It’s showing our elders who are afraid, afraid to leave their house that we’re here, we want to support you we’re holding you right now.”
Azevedo hopes that the organization can work with law enforcement in the future to protect the community.
“All of us need to come together if we hope to make this a safer community for the years to come,” Azevedo said.
The group planned a soft launch of the project on Saturday with a few volunteer groups on the streets. They hope to continue to build awareness of the issue in the community.