Even before the pandemic, Oakland Chinatown was struggling. But since start of the Pandemic and the resulting increase in anti-Asian violence, 10% of Oakland Chinatown small business have closed. The shooting death of beloved Oakland Chinatown dentist Lili Xu is yet another blow to the community. Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce president Carl Chan calls the combination of violence and COVID-19 “a dual pandemic.”
In addition, inflation makes things worse for restaurant owners. As they are forced to raise prices as the prices of their supplies goes up, this threatens to drive off more customers. Continuing violence makes it even harder to recover as many potential customers, particularly the elderly, are too frightened to come out to patronize its restaurants. Many restaurants that survived doing take out business have yet to open in person dining. Says Tony Fong, the owner of the permanently closed Buffet Fortuna:
“There’s a way to contain the virus itself with vaccines and such. But if the public safety remains so bad, there’s no hope for Chinatown.”
The Blue Angels Patrol, a bilingual volunteer group, patrols Chinatown in an effort to deter crime. They have done things like distribute airhorns, which are credited in saving a pregnant Chinatown business owner from a robbery. No breakthroughs in Lili Xu’s murder have been reported. Oakland police are looking for help from the owner of a white tesla who may have recorded the killing.