By Emily Drooby
The Guardian Angels are hitting the pavement in Chinatown, New York, taking action to calm down coronavirus fears.
“It’s scaring the bejesus out of Americans, and tourists, and even the Asian Americans themselves but some are reacting by taking it out on their fellow neighbors who happen to be Asian American,” explained Curtis Sliwa, a Catholic and the group’s founder.
The intolerance motivated the famed volunteer crime-prevention organization to step up their patrols in areas with a large Chinese community – like Flushing in Queens, Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Chinatown.
The coronavirus has killed over 2,000 people and infected more than 75,000 – most in mainland China.
In New York, fears over the deadly disease have been spreading, along with outright anger directed at Asian Americans.
“Just getting yelled at, like, randomly,” explained one person. “They would buy and order, and then someone would yell ‘coronavirus’ in their face.”
“Nothing major, just small things. Like on the bus…I see a little bit of micro-reactions,” said ___.
According to Sliwa, it has gotten so intense that Asian Americans aren’t even wearing face masks, a standard practice for many during flu season.
“Because they’re getting harassed,” he noted, “people are looking at them they’re saying things to them, thinking they’re somehow a demon, a bearer of coronavirus.”
The bad news doesn’t stop with that. People are staying away from businesses in Asian American neighborhoods.
In Chinatown, revenues are down an estimated 40 to 60 percent, and cities around the U.S. are hurting. There has been an estimated 28 percent drop in tourism from China.
“The streets are a lot more empty than what I remember from being out here in lower Manhattan,” said Guardian Angel Jose Gonzalez. “Always remembered these restaurants were packed, full and now you barely see one or two customers.”
The Guardian Angels have been eating at local restaurants, hoping others will follow their lead.
Officials have launched a campaign called “Show Some Love to Chinatown,” with the hopes of encouraging people to get back into the businesses.
While the coronavirus concerns are not going away anytime soon, at least the New York City community knows they have a Guardian Angel in Chinatown.