San Francisco leaders decried a recent surge in violent crime victimizing Asian-Americans in the Bay Area and elsewhere
The group Stop AAPI Hate recorded nearly 4,000 instances of physical or verbal attacks of Asian-Americans between March 2020 and February 2021, and the Bay Area has seen several high-profile attacks appearing to target Asian residents
SFPD plans to step up patrols in predominantly Asian neighborhoods in San Francisco to deter incidents
San Francisco plans to step up police patrols in neighborhoods with a large number of Asian residents amid a spike in violent attacks, both in the City and elsewhere.
Mayor London Breed and chief of police Bill Scott said at a press conference on Wednesday that SFPD will boost patrols in the City's predominantly Asian communities. San Francisco has seen several violent incidents victimizing Asian seniors in recent weeks, most recently an assault of a 75-year-old woman on Market St. reported by KPIX on Wednesday morning.
"It's horrific, what can you can say," said Scott on Wednesday, referring to the killing of eight women, mostly of Asian descent, at two Georgia spas on Tuesday evening. "The Asian Americans in our community need to know that we stand with them. Any type of violent crime is horrific, but when people appear to be targeted because of their race or ethnicity, that is unacceptable."
The group Stop AAPI Hate recorded 3,795 instances of verbal and physical attacks of Asian Americans during the COVID pandemic, ranging from discriminatory conduct to assaults. The Bay Area is no exception to this trend, with assaults of Asians occurring in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.
In San Francisco, an attack of an 84-year-old man in Anza Vista in late January left the victim deceased; in February, a 67-year-old man was assaulted and robbed at a laundromat near Chinatown; on Monday, a 59-year-old man was badly beaten in the Financial District.
Breed linked the wave of attacks to a bevy of broader issues facing San Francisco, including a surge in mental health problems, substance abuse and unemployment since the onset of the pandemic.
"As we begin the process of reopening, we're hoping that some of those things will change....but also, there has to be accountability," Breed said. "We need to understand what was going on [in the recent attacks]...in some cases they didn't involve any robbery or theft, so how do we get to the root of the problem?"
SFPD is "coordinating with our federal partners and local AAPI community organizations" to stem attacks, in addition to increased foot patrols that may deter violent crimes, said Scott. San Francisco neighborhoods with high numbers of Asian residents include Visitacion Valley, Ingleside, the Excelsior, the Outer Sunset and Richmond, and Chinatown.
Arrests have been made in several of the recent attacks, but none have been charged as hate crimes, which are difficult to prove. The District Attorney's office filed a murder charge in the Anza Vista assault; three arrests were made in the laundromat attack this week, but charges are forthcoming.
"I've had many conversations with the DA...I talked about the investigations, about making sure we give the evidence, when it's there, for our prosecutors to be able to prosecute these cases," said Scott. "There's a lot of things that we need to come together on. I'm not always satisfied by the way cases go, but the system is the system. Our role, and my job, is to make sure this police department does its part and hopefully that helps the DA and his prosecutors do their jobs."