Hundreds of people from Chinese-American communities in Philadelphia and surrounding areas held a march and rally Saturday to protest crime and violence targeting their communities.
Demonstrators at the rally in Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall were especially protesting recent armed home invasion robberies of business owners in the city, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Protesters, some carrying signs that read "Stop Armed Robberies in our Community,'' also expressed anger about a rap song and video with lyrics about scoping out homes in Chinese neighborhoods to commit burglaries.
Speakers called on police to patrol more around Asian-owned businesses and take even low-level crimes against such firms more seriously so that they don't escalate into more serious crimes.
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City Councilman David Oh, who is Korean-American, said he has called for an Oct. 31 Council hearing on crimes of violence that target Chinese business owners, particularly restaurant owners. He said he expects representatives of the FBI, the district attorney's office, police and other community leaders to attend.
The Rev. Robert Shine, 77, of Berachah Baptist Church in East Germantown, who is black, said he recognized that many such crimes have been committed by members of the African-American community.
"All of us together, in the city of Philadelphia, must stand arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand to oppose any act of violence,'' said Shine, who also condemned as "reprehensible'' the "hardcore rap music that advocates violence.''
A police captain then joined the demonstrators- who also came from New Jersey, New York and Delaware- as they marched to Philadelphia's Chinatown neighborhood, shouting "No more violence!'' and "We want safety!''
Rally organizer Steven Zhu, president of the Greater Philadelphia Fujian Association and general secretary of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, said there had been a rash of robberies of Chinese American business owners in July and August.
During one month, a dozen families were robbed, and last year more than 100 Chinese-American families or small businesses in Philadelphia were victims of armed robberies, he said.
Councilman Mark Squilla, whose district includes Chinatown, urged business owners to install surveillance cameras for their safety. A city program reimburses eligible business owners for part of the costs to obtain and install security cameras.
"Everyone has the right to feel safe in their community and in their businesses,'' Squilla told the crowd.