Protesters rally vs. anti-Chinese crime
About 100 people gathered on Saturday afternoon in front of the busy Galleria Mall in Houston to protest crimes against the local Chinese community.
The rally was in part to echo and support a simultaneous protest in Philadelphia where Chinese Americans gathered to voice their concern about crimes targeting Chinese Americans and complain about rap singer YG, who was holding a concert there on Saturday night.
Incidents such as car break-ins and robberies at gunpoint occurring in Chinatown in recent months have caused great concern among Houston’s Chinese community. Rapper YG’s song Meet the Flockers, which contains lyrics about finding a Chinese neighborhood to burglarize, only added more fuel to the outrage.
Protests have been staged by the Chinese communities in cities where YG’s concerts are held.
The Houston rally was organized by lawyer Jessica Chen with support from numerous Chinese organizations. At the rally, Chen recounted her own personal experience of being robbed in July.
“I came out of my office [in Chinatown] after working late and was confronted by two people,” she said. “They took my purse and drove away with my car. It was dark and I couldn’t see clearly what they looked like.”
A couple of hours later, with the help of the car’s GPS function, police located her vehicle along with four African-American teenagers. However, due to a lack of evidence, no charges were ever filed.
“I think the district attorney’s office needs to do more to prosecute crimes,” said Chen.
Joshua Hall was one of the few non-Chinese at the rally.
“I am a business owner and I am here to show solidarity against violence and crimes in general,” Hall said. “Right now there are criminals out there exploiting the Chinese community because they know it has very poor security. Robbery is a Houston issue, but it’s worse in Chinatown right now. We got to end that.”
Two days prior to the rally, a WeChat article, posted by Voice of American Chinese, accused rally organizer Jessica Chen of using the protest as a pretense to support Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and called for the Chinese to boycott the rally because Chen was a Clinton supporter. Many Trump supporters voiced the same accusation in various WeChat groups.
“I am very sad to see the community safety issue get hijacked by political issues,” said Chen. “My motives for the rally have nothing to do with the election and politics. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat, Chinese Americans are often viewed as foreigners.”
At the rally on Saturday, only signs and slogans related to safety and security were displayed.
Politics aside, some argued that the safety in Chinatown is not necessarily worse than other areas in Houston and viewed the rally as unnecessary.
Chen Ke, chairman of Chinese Civic Center, also expressed concern prior to the rally.
“There are security issues in Chinatown but it’s absolutely not terrible,” Chen said.
Protesters from the Chinese community rally against crimes targeting Chinatown on Saturday.