By Cindy Hsu

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are calls for volunteers to help patrol Chinatown in lower Manhattan as we see an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Members of the Chinatown Block Watch, dressed in bright orange, have been patrolling the neighborhood since February 2020, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported Friday.

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It started when the community had turned into a ghost town, weeks before COVID-19 shut down the rest of the city.

Now, with bias attacks against Asians on the rise, the Block Watch is even more vigilant and patrols the area twice a week.

“We try to deescalate a situation or intervene if there’s any kind of physical attack or, if there’s verbal abuse, we try to defuse it,” said Karlin Chan, a community activist who started the Chinatown Block Watch.

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Chan said the Chinatown area is filled with immigrant families who are struggling. They’re also up against the myth that Asians are what’s called the “model minority.”

“There’s a lot of negative stereotyping about Asians and Chinese. ‘We all have a lot of money, we’re all very successful.’ But the fact is one in four Chinese and Asians live in poverty, live below the poverty line in the city,” said Chan.

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The “model minority” myth perpetuates the idea that Asians don’t need services or help. But the Block Watch is looking for volunteers from all over.

Ben Wolf, who lives on the Upper East Side, joined the group when he heard about it on Facebook.

“Just to show a face, just to say someone out there cares. I think that’s the best thing I can do,” Wolf said.

Chan said Chinatown is getting back on its feet. About 70% of the businesses that survived are back open. The Block Watch has members both young and old looking out for the community they love.

“We have some younger millennials in their twenties, which is good because I don’t run as fast as I use to,” said Chan.

The Chinatown Block Watch patrols on Thursdays and Sundays. It’s always looking for more volunteers.

Anyone interested can contact Karlin Chan at Blockwatch@cfmac.org.

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For more information and resources on #StopAsianHate National Day of Action and Healing, click here.

Cindy Hsu