Chinatown Crime Watch Then and Now

By David Li,

Boston, Feb, 17, 2014, — At Wong Family Association’s Chinese New Year banquet at Empire Garden in Boston Chinatown on Feb. 16, 2014, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh stoped by the table of distinguished guests, and greeted 89-year-old WWII veteran Arthur Wong. About 900 members and guests attended this annual banquet, and enjoyed fine Chinese food, performances and prizes.
Mayor Walsh thanks Arthur Wong for his services (photo by David Li).

Arthur Wong was on Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 as a US Army soldier, and was awarded Purple Heart, Bronze Star and seven other military medals for his bravery and injuries suffered during WWII. Mr. Wong was badly injuries in November 1944 during the invasion of Germany. Luckily, he was recovered after three-month stay in hospital, and returned to service. Arthur Wong was selected to be one of the two soldiers to be interviewed by a New York newspaper on the ship back to the US from Europe. He returned to New York City on VOJ day in 1945.

After the war, Arthur Wong has severed leadership positions at many non-profit organizations in Boston Chinatown and nationwide, including the CCBA and Chinese Merchants Association. “In the 1960s and 1970s, there were a lot of gangsters from New York City in Boston Chinatown, and they made it very difficult to run a business in Chinatown. I used to patrol the streets of Chinatown carrying a gun, which was sanctioned by Boston police because I was a veteran. You could hear gunshots in Boston Chinatown from time to time, especially after midnight in those days, ” said Arthur Wong.

The situation is much better now in Boston Chinatown, in part thanks to the services of Chinatown Crime Watch volunteers. Another member of the Wong Family Association, Michael Wong has led a group of volunteers to keep Chinatown safe every evening, 365 days a year rain or snow, hot or cold for last nine years since May 2005. Michael Wong was awarded the prestigious Volunteer of the Year award as captain of the Chinatown Crime Watch team at Boston Main Streets gala in 2012.
Michael Wong (left) and Peter Chan were patrolling the streets of Boston Chinatown (photo by David Li).

In a cold February night a few days ago, I met Michael Wong and Peter Chan in their Crime Watch uniforms when I stepped outside the New Gold Gate restaurant. It really warmed my heart to see the torch being passed through from Arthur Wong to volunteers like Michael Wong and Peter Chan. They requested more volunteers to join the effort for the betterment and safety of Chinatown community.

According to Gilbert Ho of Chinatown Main Street, among the Chinatown Crime Watch volunteer members, there was only one paid employee. The volunteer dispatcher and coordinator receives $50 per day for the duty of coordinating the volunteers schedule, uniform, equipment, and dispatch Boston Police if there were emergency activities that would require Police to intervene.

The following is comments from Chungchi Che, board member of CCBA, on this story: “the Chinatown Crime Watch team was founded, is being administrated and funded under the umbrella of CCBA. The current CCBA president Hung Goon and treasurer Larry Young are in charge of the team’s operation and it is being monitored by the Board of CCBA.”

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