The random assault on a beloved security guard in Vancouver’s Chinatown last month was the final straw for many shopkeepers, including the victim’s wife, who was so fed up that she challenged Kennedy Stewart to walk the streets with her.
While in Chinatown on Saturday to help kick off the second annual Light Up Chinatown outdoor celebration, Vancouver’s mayor responded to Brandy La Rocque Johnson’s invitation and said public safety is his top priority.
Chinatown merchants fed up after beloved security guard attacked by stranger
Free two-day event with performances, food trucks, lights and lanterns on 500 blocks of Columbia Street, 100 blocks of Pender Street and surrounding streets during Mid-Autumn Festival, attracts visitors essential in the historic district.
“I think better days are ahead for Chinatown and a lot of that has to do with events like this,” Stewart told Global News.
Chinatown continues to be plagued by street unrest that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harold Johnson, the 64-year-old security guard who has been patrolling the streets of the area for two decades, was repeatedly punched by an unidentified man on August 12 while making his morning rounds at the Chinese Cultural Center.
Community rallies behind beloved security guard attacked in Vancouver’s Chinatown
The attack on Johnson resulted in a black eye, which the community was not going to tolerate.
“I’m angry,” Johnson’s wife, Brandy La Rocque Johnson, told Global News on August 15.
Fed up with random attacks in the neighborhood where she grew up and runs a business, Brandy called on merchants to take to the streets and had harsh words for Stewart.
“What is the mayor doing?” Brandy said.
“Walk and see what’s really going on here, it’s time he woke up.”
Police issue B.C.-wide warrant for man accused of racist attack on Chinatown elder in May
When asked on Saturday if he would walk the streets with her, the mayor did not directly answer the question.
“Everyone should feel safe in Vancouver,” Stewart told Global News.
“We are doing everything we can. I am very happy to reach out and talk to anyone who would like to discuss this, including members of [Harold Johnson’s] family.”
Stewart drove past tents in the 100 block of East Hastings Street in West Main.
Johnson, who is still recovering from a concussion, a broken nose and cheekbone, said the incident haunts him and he does not know or even recognize his attacker.
“He has nightmares at night,” his wife told Global News on Friday.
“It’s a little scary.”
Man accused of attacking Chinatown security guard now wanted on BC-wide warrant
The suspect accused of assaulting Johnson, Kevin Aaron Hibbard, 44, is wanted on a B.C.-wide warrant after he allegedly failed to appear in court on Thursday.
In the meantime, the Johnsons are grateful to the community for raising nearly $30,000 to help Harold as he is unable to work and recover at home.
“You can knock me down but I’ll get back up, come back strong,” Johnson told Global News on Friday before receiving a check for $20,000 from a GoFundMe campaign organized by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
Chinatown merchants donate nearly $9,000 to security guard assaulted in attack by stranger
On August 22, the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association donated the $8,800 it raised to Johnson and his wife.
Johnson said he intended to return to work before his scheduled retirement next year.
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