Karen immigrants fight back to ward off local gangs

They came to City Heights to escape Burmese Army

SAN DIEGO - A peaceful group of Karen people from Burma came to City Heights to escape the Burmese Army.

Now, they have a different kind of fight on their hands as they ward off local gangs.

10News obtained cell phone video which showed a violent street fight targeting the refugees.

Once former police officer Kevin LaChapelle saw the video on YouTube, he sprung into action. Earlier this year, he launched a leadership academy where each participant states a goal and how they plan to achieve it.  

LaChapelle is also trying to keep the Karen kids from being recruited into local gangs.

"I think that's what's really unfortunate is you have people that have stories for example of being dragged out of their homes in their country and had their homes burned and their family members killed," he said. "Then, they escaped that and they're told, 'You're going to come to America for a new life' and then you come to America and find that you start getting bullied here."

About 300 Karen refugees now live in San Diego.

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