Community marches to save Chinatown

Rod Tam
Rod Tam
Sandra Pohl
Sandra Pohl
Marsha Rose
Marsha Rose

By Roger Mari bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's a community effort to take back a town rich in culture and history and one where local businesses depend on tourist dollars.

Over the past few years, Chinatown has seen an increase in robberies, homelessness, and drug dealing, sparking a decrease in visitors.

One group marches to preserve the character of Chinatown.

The Chinatown Business and Community Association along with merchants and residents take their message to the streets of Chinatown. It's the first time in a while that a group this big has come to help fight crime

"We need to bring them together so they can be the eyes and ears for the police force," said councilmember Rod Tam.

One of the issues addressed was the violent crimes happening day and night. The owner of one business says she's seen evidence of fights just outside of her building.

"I thought it was ketchup, and I was really mad that I had to clean this up but it was blood sprayed, so somebody really took a beating," said Chinatown merchant.

While police do their best to monitor the area, some feel it's just not enough.

"They can't be everywhere, Chinatown is big and the criminals are smart," said Rod Tam.

Homelessness is also on the rise as many are being driven out of Kapiolani park, and making their way downtown.

"There isn't a crisis coming. The crisis is here right now and we need to deal with it on a humane level. Just moving people around is not the answer," said Chinatown merchant Marsha Rose.

Saturday's march is one way of showing merchants and residents that it's a fight that can be won.

"The state can't do it the city can't do it we, all of us have to do it," said Marsha Rose.

With the lion dance leading the way to ward off evil spirits, this group hopes the rest of the community will follow in their footsteps to help make Chinatown a safer place.

Councilmember Rod Tam will begin working with the Honolulu police department in organizing crime prevention programs, such as the neighborhood watch program and citizens patrol.