Gascon rolls out program to address violence against Asians on Third Street

Addressing Asian issues in the District 10 race
Marlene Tran (left) talks about her bilingual efforts to help Asian community as Tony Kelly (right) listens at recent D. 10 forum (Espanola Jackson not pictured).

SFPD Chief George Gascon will roll out a pilot program today in an effort to address  violence against Asians seniors on public transit.

A press release notes that the SFPD in conjunction with AT&T and the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs, which is a division of the City Administrator’s Office, has developed the San Francisco Community Ambassadors program.

“This is a pilot program, designed to enhance community awareness and safety,” the release states. "The pilot program will consist of community safety teams assigned to public transit locations in Visitation Valley and Bayview to provide a safe, visible and supportive presence for residents. This program will consist of 12 ambassadors who are from various cultural backgrounds. Many of the ambassadors are bilingual as well.”

D. 10 candidate Marlene Tran, who speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, understands Vietnamese and has taught English as a Second Language for 37 years, told the Guardian she has been working on community safety issues for 20 years. Tran also said that she recently did a bilingual survey in light of a wave of violence against seniors on the Third St. corridor.

“I have daily contact with students and residents, so I have my finger on the pulse of the community as a whole,” Tran said. "It’s a battleground out there, but for a long time no one knew about it, because many of the victims are not English speaking.”

“We want to be an integrated community,” Tran continued, “and seniors should have the flexibility to move around, but many of them don’t dare go out after 4 p.m., unless they are escorted, so having this program is a step in the right direction. Some of these cases are never reported. We need to encourage residents to be more proactive.”

Details of how the program will be funded and how long it will last remain sketchy at this point. Sharen Hewitt, founder of the Community Leadership Academy and Emergency Response Project (CLEAR), told the Guardian that she pitched the concept of having monitors on the bus some months ago, during her last meeting with Board President David Chiu and Sup. Carmen Chu.

“I suggested we take money from Trent Rohrer’s Jobs Now program to pay for it,” Hewitt said. “I also suggested we go to developers in the Bayview and engage them in a constructive conversation about donating dollars to help with translation services.”

Gascon and 12 ambassador staff will be present to speak about the program at today’s press conference, which takes place at 2:45 p.m. at 2574 San Bruno Ave.