2020 is finally over. Looking back at this past year, San Francisco’s Chinese community captured major news headlines — good and bad — and kept reporters covering those stories busier than ever.
We reviewed the year month by month and here are some highlights of an unforgettable year.
At the end of January, as Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations began, the FBI arrested Public Works Department Head Mohammed Nuru, launching a still-ongoing City Hall corruption scandal. Soon, Chinatown business leaders Walter Wong and Florence Kong were also named and charged. …
The century-old landmark restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown, the Far East Cafe, will close at the end of 2020. Though the owner still has a glimmer of hope of returning sometime in 2021, the community less optimistic is saddened by the news.
An outpouring of affectionate memories from native San Franciscans about the Far East follows, revealing how deeply this popular banquet space was connected with the City’s Chinese American culture.
Decades ago, Chinatown had a number of restaurants that could single-handedly accommodate banquet settings for hundreds, if not over a thousand. …
I got a chance to chat with Connie, David, and Marjan in early October, and here are excerpts from each of the conversations. The Chinese-language in-depth profile articles are published on Sunday, Oct 18.
With Connie Chan 陳詩敏
Han: What’s your dream at that time when you came to San Francisco from Hong Kong at the age of 13?
Connie: I think at that time, so young, I was thinking about how can I make it to college. I was kinda worried! As a first-generation immigrant, I didn't really speak English or wasn't that well. I was really worried if I could catch up, taking SATs, and apply for colleges. But we got through it, also with a lot of help. I wanna say that. …
Updated on Sep 28:
An outdoor playground in San Francisco may soon be renamed to remember an assault victim, associating with a goal to deliver positive messages to the neighborhood.
Yik Oi Huang(黃馬奕愛), an 89-year-old Asian American “Grandma Huang” who lived in the city’s southeastern community Visitacion Valley, was brutally attacked in 2019 while she’s exercising in the Visitacion Valley Playground. After a year of hospitalization, Huang passed away in early 2020.
Community members now are organizing to start a petition to change the name of the public park where the crime was committed to “Yik Oi Huang Peace and Friendship Park”. …
Amid the pandemic, a rising trend of news coverage and social media reports of attacks against Asian Americans across the U.S. exposes an unprecedented public safety concern in the victimized community.
San Francisco, a city with more than one-third of its population are of Asian descent, is considering forming an anti-Asian hate crimes task force to tackle the threats. This move, currently under discussion in City Hall, is following the New York Police Department(NYPD) announcing the creation of the “Asian Hate Crime Task Force” in August.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it has not been easy for our Chinese community as they are facing xenophobia and discrimination”, said Mayor London Breed during a Chinese language media roundtable. …
One San Francisco police officer’s Cantonese translation was found flawed and misleading in a 2014 Chinatown mom knife threatening case. But the conclusion of misconduct took five-plus years to make, irritating the Public Defender’s office.
Yu Fen Huang, a Toishanese-speaking monolingual janitor who lived in Chinatown with her two teenage daughters, was arrested on July 19, 2014. She allegedly held a kitchen knife while cooking and said “I’ll chop you up” to her daughters because of some family arguments. The elder daughter called 911, and the incident led to a series of arrest, restraining order, and prosecution of criminal threats and child endangerment to Huang. …
The sudden death of Judge Michael Kwan(關維斌) from Utah shocked the Chinese American community nationwide. In particular, the Bay Area community felt hit strongly by the tragic news because of its close ties with Kwan.
Kwan was found unresponsive at home between July 21 to 22. The specific time and cause of death are still unclear. He was 58.
For years, Kwan had been an iconic leader pushing for the mainstream recognition of the Chinese railroad workers’ contribution in building the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was finished in 1869 and connected the U.S. east to west.
Each year in Promontory, Utah, where the final part of the railroad construction located, a “Golden Spike ” festival will be held to celebrate the completion of the railroad. In 2019, the 150-year anniversary of the “Golden Spike” was the first time that those early-time Chinese immigrant laborers were officially honored and respected for their works and sacrifices. Kwan was the major initiator and coordinator behind the 150-year anniversary series events, attracting thousands of Chinese Americans, including U. S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao(趙小蘭) to Promontory to join the historic commemoration. …
San Francisco’s Chinatown has recorded at least one COVID-19 related death case since the pandemic hit the city. However, this densely-populated area keeps the title as the neighborhood with the lowest infection rate citywide.
The World Journal has learned that one Chinatown resident, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and tested positive for COVID-19, has died “two weeks ago”, according to the source. The patient has no COVID-19 symptoms but got tested as a regular routine during hospitalization.
The source said that the cause of death is more likely to be terminal cancer, an existing severe health problem, rather than COVID-19. …
Leland Yee(余胤良), a former California state senator who was convicted on multiple federal charges, was released from a Sacramento halfway house last week after serving five years in jail.
According to the inmate information system of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Yee, 71, was released on June 26, 2020. He spent the final months of his jail term in a Sacramento Residential Reentry Management(RRM) facility.
San Francisco’s transportation policy governing board has been without an Asian American member for more than a year. And Mayor London Breed is proposing to change that.
Sharon Lai(黎慧心), a Chinese American immigrant and urban planning professional, has been nominated by the mayor to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency(SFMTA). If Lai’s nomination gets approved by the elected supervisors, she will be the first Asian American director on that board since last year.
Lai has more than a decade of experience in city planning and land use issues, and before moving to private sector, she’s a senior planner in San Francisco’s Planning Department for years. She currently works for One Vassar, a commercial real estate company, and sits on the board of the Treasure Island Development Authority(TIDA). …