‘We Will Not Be Afraid’: After Attack, President of Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Resolves to 'Stay Strong'

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Carl Chan, president of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, holds an air horn that he has given out to businesses and residents of Chinatown in Oakland on Feb. 26, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

After Carl Chan was assaulted on Tuesday on his way to assist a crime victim, he said he’s now even more determined to prevent crimes against people in Oakland. Chan, who is the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, is an outspoken advocate for the Asian and Asian American community.

“I was on my way to help a victim of a crime, and little did I know I would become the victim myself,” he said. Chan was struck on the head from behind near 8th St. and Broadway in downtown Oakland.

Chan says his attacker was yelling profanities and said either “Chinatown” or “Chinaman” before punching him. After falling to the ground, Chan was able to get up and take a photo of the person walking away, which later aided the police in identifying and arresting the suspect.

Oakland police say the suspect, a man from Oakland, is still in custody and an investigation is ongoing.

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“Physically, I'm pretty hurt, but ... I have to stay strong to fight against this kind of attacks, especially against our seniors and our community,” Chan said.

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Chan believes the man targeted him because he’s Asian.

Since the incident, he says he's received over 500 messages from supporters sharing their well wishes. Oakland Chinatown has been on edge after a several violent incidents earlier this year, including a number of robberies and assaults against elderly people.

In response to the incidents, volunteers have been patrolling Chinatown’s streets, and community members also crowdsourced funds for private security in the neighborhood.

On Friday, Chan attended a protest in Downtown Oakland against Senate Bill 82, a bill sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which would downgrade certain robberies that do not involve a deadly weapon or great bodily harm from felonies to misdemeanors.

“I'm even stronger as of today after this attack,” Chan said. “I don't want any of these attackers to feel that we will be afraid. We will not be afraid.”