Jacob Azevedo wanted to help protect the Asian American community after watching a video of a Thai American man get fatally pushed to the ground in San Francisco. He came up with the volunteer program “Compassion in Oakland” to help prevent unprovoked attacks on Asian Americans in the Bay Area.
“Compassion in Oakland” is a volunteer program where people escort elderly Asian Americans to help protect them from harassment, which has become more frequent ever since the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, was reported.
“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 volunteered to walk with anyone who wanted protection in the Oakland Chinatown neighborhood on social media. However, the idea resonated with many others in the community. Almost 300 volunteers from all ages and racial backgrounds joined him in escorting elderly Asian Americans around the Bay Area.
“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 the project was heartwarming. In times of crisis, she said it’s important for people to stand up and take action to protect targeted minorities.
“In Oakland, they’re planning this action and it’s really less about controlling and more about supporting the community and showing up,” Choi 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.”
“Compassion in Oakland” had a soft launch on Saturday (11/13/21), where there were multiple groups of volunteers on the streets. Azevedo hopes to continue to grow the project and bring more awareness to the issues Asian Americans are facing in the community.