Shop owners express gratitude


POSTED: Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chinatown was more crowded than usual yesterday as residents, police and politicians joined forces for a march against crime, jostling for space with shoppers angling for fresh produce.

;[Preview]    Chinatown Residents & Police Team Up

Chinatown residents and police banded today, to emphasize that they are banding together to reassure the safety in downtown.



With a backdrop of bananas hanging against a red brick wall, the Chinatown Business and Community Association launched the march yesterday morning to the clang of a gong and a lion dance.

“;The point of the march is to come together,”; said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, president of the association, which was formed last month. “;We're very pleased the police are adding substantial personnel. I think having a police presence really deters crime, especially at nighttime.”;

Across the street, Alfredo Ragodos, 70, of Salt Lake seemed heartened to see the uniformed police officers and association members in red T-shirts. Ragodos said he and his wife have been shopping less in Chinatown since a man was shot dead March 28 and another man stabbed April 3, apparently in retaliation.

“;After this two weeks I'm scared,”; Ragodos said, “;but it's more safe now because of plenty police.”;

Suspects are in custody in both cases. Two San Francisco men were charged with second-degree murder after Joseph Maulili Peneueta, 35, was shot several times at the corner of River and Pauahi streets before dawn. The stabbing suspect, Hine Laloulu, 22, turned himself in at the Kalihi police station Tuesday and was charged with attempted second-degree murder.

Police Chief Boisse Correa, who took part in the march, attributed the crimes to a turf battle between a local gang and a mainland gang that is trying to establish a presence here.

“;We've tripled the police presence in Chinatown — and that's just the visible presence, not the special investigations with the feds,”; he said.

Chinatown resident Al Ronquillo, who works at the Arizona Memorial, says he encourages tourists to come to his neighborhood but was unnerved by the shooting right outside the building where he lives with his family. He has been doing his part to keep Chinatown safe as a member of a citizens patrol since last September.

“;With all these incidents that have been happening in the last couple of weeks, we need to be more active to get rid of this problem,”; Ronquillo said.

After the march, the group broke into eight teams to pass out fliers with information on where to call for help and a police brochure titled “;How to Describe a Suspect.”; Police urged witnesses to report crimes immediately to 911 while they are happening. They also encouraged residents to call a new hot line, 768-6800, for other concerns about trouble in Chinatown.

As he walked the neighborhood, Correa noted that he had started his career in Chinatown 39 years ago and that it was a lively place for a rookie cop back then. “;It is much cleaner and safer now, and the community is a lot more involved,”; he said. “;It's a place where families can come.”;

“;People should not get intimidated — it's a safe jurisdiction,”; he said, stepping around a display of shiny shoes on the sidewalk. “;Where else can you have goods out on the street and people are not running off with them, ripping them off?”;