SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Marlon Lara arrived at Stockton Boulevard Partnership for his first day as a volunteer for the “Safety on Stockton Blvd” program. It's a program that aims to help keep people in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community safe while out doing daily activities.
"We got a whistle just in case we see anything," Lara said. "We want to make sure we aren’t just seen but heard and we got a little 'to do' list of how we should approach any situation we may see out there.”
Volunteers will be spread throughout Stockton Blvd at the four major Asian supermarkets, Vinh Phat, New Asia, Wing Wa and A&A, with law enforcement also at the ready.
“There’s going to be an increased law enforcement presence in the area, both patrol and bike from the sheriff's department and the Sacramento Police Department,” said Thien Ho, Assistant Chief Deputy DA with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
The DA's office said there has not been an increase of hate crimes on Stockton Blvd., but there has been a rise in racist rhetoric towards the Asian community nationwide during the pandemic.
“Stockton Boulevard means everything. It’s a little bit of our culture, which is now being called Little Saigon. It’s a big part of the Asian community,” said Alexander Hua, a customer at Wing Wa supermarket.
Hua said the uptick in volunteers and law enforcement at AAPI businesses is needed during this time and makes him feel more safe.
“Seeing a lot of videos where people aren’t stepping up is kind of sad," Hua said. "So knowing that we have people looking out for us and our elders is very very important."