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In Fight Against Violence, Asian and Black Activists Struggle to Agree

In 2016, the median yearly income for Asian adults was $51,000, similar to the $48,000 for whites and above the $31,000 for Black adults, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. Yet Asian people, who are not a homogeneous group, were also the nation’s most economically divided group, the same study found; over the last four decades, the poorest Asians saw the least amount of income growth compared with their counterparts in other races.

As a result, Dr. Kim said, it was difficult to find common ground. “What kind of forum would have conservative, affluent Chinese immigrants talking to Black activists from a poor urban area, saying, ‘We need to defund the police?’” she said.

Activists said there were advantages to getting Black and Asian communities on the same page. City leaders are often reluctant to make policing changes unless minorities present a unified front, they said.

“We’ve heard, ‘If your community can’t agree on this thing, then I’m not going to make a decision on it,’” said Alvina Wong, 33, the campaign and organizing director for the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, a progressive Oakland group.

On the front lines of this debate, even friends have sometimes disagreed.

When Mr. Chan pleaded for more C.H.P. officers in Oakland this summer, he summoned the local media to a plaza in the heart of Chinatown. Flanking him were members of a volunteer patrol team aimed at tackling crime and Loren Taylor, an Oakland City Council member who is a friend.

But when a local reporter asked Mr. Taylor, who is Black, if he had signed onto Mr. Chan’s letter requesting more policing, Mr. Taylor said he had not. He was there to denounce Asian hatred, Mr. Taylor said, but was concerned about bringing in officers unfamiliar with Oakland’s standards for law enforcement.

“We want to have the argument within ourselves, before we bring in others,” he said in an interview.

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