A series of burglaries and home-invasion robberies targeting Asian Americians has prompted City Hall to conduct hearings to address the problem.
“We need to resolve this issue quickly, especially on behalf of the victims, and develop a plan to prevent future crimes," City Councilman Oh said in a statement annoucing the hearings.
“This is a public safety concern," he said. "This is an economic concern. This is an international concern, because these episodes can lead toward characterizations of Philadelphia in Asia as a city that is unfriendly to immigrants."
The hearings are intended to give victims a chance to speak out and share concerns with representatives of law enforcement agencies. The move was authorized after a resolution introduced by Oh unanimously passed City Council last week.
"The targeting of Asian business owners is especially traumatic for immigrant small business owners who speak limited English," Oh's office said in a news release.
More than a dozen Asian-American businesses have been targeted since May in burglaries and home invasions. "In most reported incidences, offenders carrying handguns have invaded upstairs residences above food businesses," according to Oh's office.
The police department has released surveillance images of two suspects from the crime spree, which targeted 11 Asian-owned businesses around Philly since May.
"In many of the incidents, the suspects break into the closed businesses where the residences are attached and tie the occupants while threatening and robbing them at gunpoint taking money, cigarettes, jewelry and electronics," the police department wrote.
A week after releasing the surveillance images, police identified the suspects as Anthony Campbell and Norman Bowen, who were swiftly apprehended. However, there may be more suspects out there, investigators said. Bowen and Campbell were charged with only eight of the original 11 incidents reported.
"While some of the criminal perpetrators have been apprehended, several remain at large," Oh's office said in a news release "The FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department are continuing to work to find suspects and bring justice to these robbery victims."