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Edmonton’s Chinatown community rallies for safety

More than 100 members of Edmonton's Chinatown community rallied for safety at City Hall Saturday, May 28, 2022. Global News

More than 100 members of Edmonton’s Chinatown community rallied in the name of safety at City Hall Saturday.

People who work and have businesses in the century-old area say they’ve had enough.

“There is a serious problem facing Chinatown,” said Michael Lee, vice-chair of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Edmonton.

“Our community is suffering because of a lot of disturbances culminating in the tragic loss of two innocent lives.”

Read more: Edmonton police lay murder charges in 2 Chinatown deaths

Those two community members were killed last week.

Police initially responded to one attack Wednesday afternoon at an auto body shop near 106 Avenue and 98 Street, before quickly discovering another man had also been hurt a block south.

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When officers got there, another injured man was found. EMS responded and the 61-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

“If that could happen in broad daylight, it could happen again and again,” Lee said.

“It will deteriorate into a situation where it will become irreversible and that would be totally tragic for everyone.”

Saturday’s Rally for Safety is to take a stand and call for help. The community wants accountability from the city too.

“We hope the city and all levels of government pay more attention to Chinatown. Chinatown is falling apart otherwise,” said Wen Wang, executive director of the Chinatown and Area Business Association.

Read more: Autopsy of man attacked in Edmonton’s Chinatown determines murder by blunt force to head

This week, city council voted to immediately allocate $300,000 in one-time funding to help address Chinatown’s needs — amending the city’s Safety and Wellbeing Strategy.

“I am the councillor with Chinese heritage, so Chinatown is my roots,” Ward Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi Coun. Jennifer Rice said Saturday.

“The city is making an effort to ensure everybody here and every community here feels safe.”

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The Edmonton Police Service has launched a new strategy to address the escalating violence — reallocating resources in areas like Chinatown and the downtown core.

Chief Dale McFee spoke at Saturday’s rally and said it’s not something policing alone will solve.

“We’ve got a community that’s obviously grieving. They want to do some things that are different,” McFee said.

“It’s not about moving money from one agency to the other — that’s never worked. It’s about having a continuum of services to get the people the right service they need at the right time.”

McFee said there are two underpinning factors when it comes to tackling the issues in the community.

“The vulnerable need to be connected to services and we’ve been doing a really good job,” he said. “The second part is the crime and the violence.

“Unfortunately, I think a lot of times these two get blended into a conversation together and they’re different and they need different aspects.”

Right now the Chinatown community is speaking up — hopeful those who can help are listening.

“The last thing that could happen to us, that would totally destroy us, is to lose hope,” Lee said.

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