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What Bigotry Looks Like During Social Distancing

As reports of harassment and assault against Asian Americans increase, community advocates are finding new ways to tackle the spread of xenophobia.
A pedestrian walks down a near-empty Doyers Street in Manhattan's Chinatown on April 6.
A pedestrian walks down a near-empty Doyers Street in Manhattan's Chinatown on April 6.Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

Even as San Franciscans are ordered to stay home, Max Leung and a group of volunteers regularly walk the streets of Chinatown. They take shifts, patrolling by car and on foot in groups of just two or three, and staying at least six feet from each other.

They’re part of the SF Peace Collective, a grassroots organization that Leung helped found shortly after the city became the first in the country to issue a shelter-in-place order back in March. The organization started after Leung and a few “ragtag” strangers in the popular Crimes Against Asians Facebook group connected over their frustration about recurring stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders being attacked and harassed, particularly older folks. After one person insisted on patrolling around San Francisco’s Chinatown, Leung and a few others decided to follow along.