Members of south Sacramento’s African American community attended a meeting Wednesday geared for Asian American residents victimized by recent crime, saying they want a role in getting criminals off the streets.
The gathering at George Sim Community Center was organized by City Councilman Eric Guerra and County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy to connect with Asian residents, who may not understand the laws and customs of the country.
The meeting was chaired by John Fan, a detective with the Sacramento Police Department who offered safety tips. His remarks were translated into Cantonese and Vietnamese.
Roughly a dozen African American residents were in attendance and some chastised police for not involving them in the dialogue about crime. The suspects in recent robberies, home invasions and assaults in the area have been described as young African American men. One suspect was “mixed race,” said Fan.
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The victims were primarily Asian, prompting a band of Chinese Americans to form nightly citizen patrols to combat crime.
“We felt like we were ignored and not invited to be a part of that conversation,” said Emmett Harden, a member and former vice president of the Avondale/Glen Elder Neighborhood Association.
Joe Debbs, district representative for state Sen. Richard Pan, said he was worried that young black men with “dreads or dressed in a certain way” would be treated as criminals and stereotyped by Asians.
“Keep us in the loop,” Debbs, who is African American, told Fan. “If it is African American (criminals), so be it. They need to be off the streets.”
The group of roughly 25 residents was outnumbered by police officers, sheriff’s deputies and local officials. It was a stark contrast to the 600 Asian residents at a forum last month when the incidents had peaked.
Residents asked police to be more forthcoming with information on the spate of crimes. Sacramento police have been unwilling to release mugshots or other details about the incidents.
Earlier this month, the department noted that 20 people had been arrested for the crimes and announced that the area had seen a 43 percent drop in robberies in September. Those figures were contested by Asian community leaders, who say the drop isn’t as large.
After sharp questioning by residents, Fan would say only that some of the suspects arrested were as young as 16 to 17 years old. He said none of the suspects has been charged with a gang or hate crime enhancement.