Responding to a yearlong surge of hate crimes and attacks against Asian Americans across the country, the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce joined the four other cultural Chambers of Commerce in Oakland to announce a statement of equality.
The statement, which was titled “Five Chambers — One Oakland,” was released by Oakland’s African American, Chinatown, Latino, Vietnamese and Metropolitan Chambers of Commerce on Mar. 4. In the statement, signed by Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Cathy Adams, the groups said they will not condone the rise in hate crimes and divisive misinformation.
“We stand together to ensure our local businesses, residents and visitors feel safe, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, religion, origin, or sexual preference,” the statement reads.
Recently Oakland has been in the national news for attacks against Asian American residents. Over two dozen reported attacks have included robberies and unprovoked assaults, and one resident, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, died of injuries after one such attack. Some activists have argued that the attacks could have been prompted by former President Trump’s rhetoric around COVID-19, including calling it the “China Virus.”
In January, President Biden released a memorandum condemning racism and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as part of a series of executive orders, which included an order for the Department of Justice to engage with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community regarding hate crimes and reports of harassment.
Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 85, a bill with funding for pandemic-related priorities. In it, the state allocated $1.4 million for researchers at the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California Los Angeles and the Stop AAPI Hate website to help report and track hate crimes.
The Oakland Chambers of Commerce also reaffirmed the collaborative nature of their organizations. Together, they represent thousands of local businesses across Oakland. Their statement also points out that they are currently working together on efforts, including financial and technical aid for businesses during the pandemic, fundraising for Oakland’s unhoused residents and community organizations, and addressing racial equity in city contracts.
“In order for our town to remain functional, it must rely on a web of mutuality and a willingness to share with each — acknowledging no one person nor one group can do it alone. City leaders, elected and appointed, must work together with each other and the business community to create and implement strategies which promote greater public safety in every community, increase economic stability and enhance a quality of life for all,” the statement reads.