By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor
Dozens of people including scores of elders packed a town hall meeting in San Francisco’s Chinatown Tuesday night to discuss recent attacks on Asian seniors.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott and newly-appointed District Attorney Brooke Jenkins reassured the audience they will send a message to criminals that attacks on Asian Americans will not be tolerated.
“We’re accountable and we’re committed,” said Scott. “Some people are afraid to go outside. We can’t have that. We have to change that.”
“I come to you as a sign of change,” said Jenkins who took office on July 8th after the recall of Chesa Boudin. “You are now seen. You are now heard.”
By the end of the meeting, as television news cameras had already left and the crowd had begun to thin out, the remaining audience grew restless and pushed Jenkins and Scott to make firm commitments.
“We’re tired of going to rallies. We are tired of going to meetings,” said Vanita Louie to applause. “We want to leave the room with hope.”
Several crime victims spoke out, expressing frustration about the lack of action in their cases.
Xiaoping Huang spoke about being attacked on April 19th on a bus, saying she suffered a brain injury. She says she sees her offenders often in the community.
“I live in fear,” she said.
She expressed frustration that no police investigators had reached out to her after she filed a formal criminal complaint.
Scott immediately instructed one of his investigators to get her contact information and to follow up.
Anh Le recalled being threatened with a glass bottle and being beaten with a baseball bat on November 2, 2019 on Stockton Street in Chinatown. The Vietnamese American expressed outrage that then-District Attorney Boudin dropped two felony charges against the suspect and allowed him to plead to a misdemeanor without informing him in advance.
Boudin would later say that Le did not show signs of physical injury and described the baseball bat as a plastic toy.
Le urged Jenkins who has pledged to review cases conducted under her predecessor to review every potential case of anti-Asian hate since January 2020.
“We will conduct that review,” said Jenkins. “We will keep people informed. I never want to hear that a case was mishandled.”
Le broke out in tears and had to be consoled after he spoke. He appeared still traumatized about what happened to him.
Jenkins says in order to file hate crime charges, investigators must find evidence of a motive.
Justin Zhu of Stand with Asian Americans pushed Scott to hire a Chinese American Assistant Chief saying San Francisco is more than one-third Asian American. He also asked the chief to commit to hiring two Asian American deputy chiefs.
Scott responded tersely.
“It’s unfair for you to put me in that position. I don’t make promotional decisions based on race. My selections are based on putting people into positions who can get the job done.”
Zhu later said to AsAmNews that it would “take much more than a town hall to address the widespread violence against our elderly.”
“The response from Chief Scott was mostly rhetoric — talking about what has been done and how they will do more. He committed to no concrete actions towards a solution to the violence facing Asian elders and the difficulty for monolingual elders to contact the police and receive justice,” said Zhu.
He said he had more confidence in Jenkins to prosecute hate crimes.
Louie who declared she wanted to leave the meeting with hope said she did just that.
“The police department and district attorney are now working together,” said Louie. “That is promising,” she said to AsAmNews.
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