Photo by Samantha Pak
After the latest bout of vandalism on Sept. 2, owner of Ming’s Asian Gallery James Russell has posted up a $1,000 reward for anyone who has information on those who committed the crimes.
By Samantha Pak
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Even the Fu lions guarding the gallery’s front doors were not fierce enough to deter vandals from covering them with what James Russell described as a “filmy” substance.
On Sept. 2, Russell was once again on the receiving end of an act of vandalism. Over the last three months, his business — Ming’s Asian Gallery — has been targeted along with others in the surrounding area.
At the beginning of summer, scratches appeared on the gallery’s windows. Damage progressed to a hole in a window the size of a 50-cent piece and ended with one entire window being broken to the point where that whole section of the display was boarded up.
That same day — Aug. 28 — the vandalism moved away from the business to his personal belongings. Vandals took a screwdriver to his son’s car and Russell suspected they were trying to open the door. In the latest bout of vandalism, it was Russell’s own car that was targeted.
“They keyed my car out in the parking lot,” he said, referring to the lot outside of Ming’s.
In hopes of preventing more acts against him and his business, Russell has posted a $1,000 reward for anybody who has any information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of those who have committed these crimes. Fortunately, one individual has already come forward and spoken to the police, Russell said.
Within the immediate area of Russell’s gallery is a key shop whose owner has also had his personal property targeted. His truck was burned and the wires on his car cut. Three other cars in the parking lot have been vandalized as well.
From what has been determined, a gang is behind these incidents all over the International District. No specific name for the gang is known, but what is known is that members wear “gray and black,” Russell said.
In an effort to help prevent future acts of vandalism, Panama Hotel owner Jan Johnson is working to organize efforts to increase public safety in the community. She said she wants to increase security measures and one way to do so is to install cameras throughout the District.
Johnson also stresses that the community would be stronger with its members working together. She herself has not been targeted but said it is important for everyone in the community to help each other out. She has been doing her part by working to activate a block watch. Throughout the organization of this group, Johnson said that local authorities have been very helpful as well in lending a hand.
“Doesn’t it make sense?” she asked during a phone interview. “Everybody has to be with the same program. That’s the key.”
Part of that program is to report suspicious activities to the proper authorities.
“I encourage people to call 911 whenever they see things instead of letting it go,” Johnson said.
Other authorities that people can contact would be the International District Emergency Center (IDEC) — a group of about 20 volunteers that “responds to emergencies in the International District,” said IDEC supervisor Donnie Chin.
Russell said that it was members of the IDEC who responded initially to the call reporting his gallery’s broken window. This was because according to the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) Web site, IDEC volunteers “have their radios tuned in (24) hours a day, seven days a week, monitoring the activity in the district.” They — along with Uwajimaya employees who had been present at the time — waited outside the gallery for four hours until 1 a.m. when they were finally able to reach Russell. He said that he would greatly like to express his appreciation to both groups for what they did.
“It’s a shame because this is a wonderful area. Some people are afraid to enter the International District,” he said about the vandalism and its effects on the community. ♦
For anybody with information on the acts of vandalism against Ming’s Asian Gallery, please call 206-748-7889. To report any suspicious behavior in the International District, contact the IDEC at 206-623-3321 or call 911.
Samantha Pak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.