Gina Martinez, Daily Mail, January 26, 2022
Anti-Asian hate crimes in San Francisco spiked 567 percent in 2021 as police say a one-man crimewave was responsible for more than half the attacks.
Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the California city, jumped to 60 last year from from just nine in 2020 and eight in 2019 – although officials believe the actual numbers are much higher because people are reluctant to report to the police.
‘That is significant, that is concerning and that is alarming,’ police chief Bill Scott said at a press conference in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Tuesday as he announced the police department would have a presence at next week’s Lunar New Year celebration while advising the community to remain vigilant.
Scott said 31 of the 60 reported attacks were committed by one man. He did not name the culprit but police later pointed to the arrest last August of 36-year-old Derik Barreto who rode around San Francisco on a scooter, vandalizing Chinese-owned businesses for five months until he was captured.
He faces 33 charges including 31 hate crime enhancements the DA’s office brought based on statements he allegedly made to police implying he targeted Asians.
Barreto is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on January 31, according to court records.
In August, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Barreto was facing 33 charges, including hate crime allegations, for 27 separate incidents of vandalism and burglary targeting 20 primarily Chinese-owned businesses, CBS San Francisco reported.
The Democratic DA, whose progressive policies have been blamed for the overall spike in crime in the city, said Barreto rode around San Francisco on a scooter and shattered the windows of 20 separate stores using a slingshot, pipe, or hammer during a string of racially motivated offenses between April and August 2021.
Barreto is charged with 27 felony counts of vandalism, four felony counts of second-degree burglary, one misdemeanor count of possession of burglary tools and one misdemeanor count of possession of a concealed weapon.
He will face 31 enhanced hate-crime charges after comments Barreto allegedly made to police suggesting he intentionally targeted businesses he believed to be Chinese-owned and that he was motivated by the perceived race and nationality of the victims, the San Francisco Standard reported.
‘Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a deeply concerning increase in the incidence of hate and violence against the AAPI community. We will not stand for it and we will do everything in our power to stop it,’ Boudin said.
Reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in San Francisco increased more than against any other group, and even without accounting for Barreto’s crime spree would have still seen a 200 percent jump last year. There were just eight reported in 2019 in the city, where nearly 35 percent of its population of 300,00 is Asian.
Hateful attacks against the AAPI community surged nationally during the pandemic, fueled in part by then-President Donald Trump’s calling COVID-19 a derogatory nickname that insulted China.
In San Francisco, Anti-Jewish hate crimes also saw a slight increase from five to eight reports in 2021, while reports of hate crimes against Arabs or Muslims and Latinos slightly decreased, preliminary police reports indicated.
Scott’s press conference came on the same day Anh Lê, an elderly Asian American man who was attacked two years ago in San Francisco and left with PTSD, announced he was suing the city’s District Attorney’s Office over allegedly mishandling his case.
Lê was walking through Chinatown when he sustained a ‘brutal’ assault by a father and son, who beat him with a baseball bat and threatened to kill him.
The 69-year-old, who is Vietnamese American, was able to escape and call 911. His attackers were arrested later that day by SFPD officers, on November 2, 2019.
The father was identified as Jimmy Tanner Sr. His teenage son had taken a baseball bat out of his mother’s bag after Lê told him to be careful while he was riding his bicycle on a busy sidewalk, and had nearly crashed into him.
Tanner Sr.’s teenage son hit Lê repeatedly with the bat, before his father held up a glass bottle and threatened to kill the elderly man. According to NextShark, Tanner Sr. was detained for battery, felony elder abuse and terroristic threats.
However, the San Francisco District Attorney refused to prosecute either Tanner Sr. or his son with a hate crime, and agreed to a lenient plea deal with the father.
In order to avoid jail time, Tanner Sr. pled guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge. He received a year of probation over the incident.
Lê says the Office of District Attorney Chesa Boudin never informed him of a lenient plea deal cut with his attackers or the lack of a hate crime charge until after the fact.
He is now arguing that the office of DA Boudin has systemically refused to uphold the rights of Asian Americans victimized by racial violence.
‘The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office allowed the adult male attacker to plead to a misdemeanor with one year probation, restitution to the victim and (a) criminal protective order,’ Mr Lê said during a news conference on Tuesday.
‘They did this without consulting me, without any input from me at all, and in violation of my rights as a victim.’
During the conference, the man said the attack was ‘the most brutal, terrifying and humiliating experience of my life.’
The Stop AAPI Hate coalition out of San Francisco State University tracked more than 10,000 incidents of hate from March 2020 through September 2021.
In San Francisco and elsewhere, video clips of Asian Americans being attacked and robbed on public streets alarmed the community so much that frightened seniors stayed home.
Most recently, former San Francisco Bay Area resident Michelle Go died in New York City after a mentally disturbed man pushed her in front of a subway.
Officials there say there is no indication the man was motivated by racial bias, but Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are still rattled.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said at Tuesday’s news conference they have expanded the crime tip line to include more languages and are sharing safety tips for Lunar New Year celebrations.
But he also acknowledged his department is only part of a criminal justice system that includes prosecution and judges.
Statistics do not show the whole picture because not everyone reports incidents. Also, prosecutors are unable to tack on hate crime enhancements without a clear statement of bias by the alleged attacker.
This has frustrated some victims and their families, who see the charge as a sign of accountability.