San Francisco PD adds patrols in Asian American communities after Ga. spa shootings

Police are also bolstering community outreach efforts amid a surge in violence against Asian Americans, officials said


By Michael Cabanatuan
San Francisco Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco police stepped up patrols in neighborhoods with high numbers of Asian residents, visitors and businesses Wednesday in the wake of the killing of six Asian women in Atlanta and a recent surge of violence in the Bay Area against Asian Americans.

Mayor London Breed directed the San Francisco Police Department Wednesday morning to immediately increase patrols in Asian communities even as attacks on Asian elders continued in the city. Police said they have added patrols in Chinatown, San Bruno Avenue, Visitacion Valley and the Sunset and Richmond districts.

Breed announced the stepped-up patrols on Twitter Wednesday morning during a press conference commemorating the one-year anniversary of the city's pandemic lockdown.

"We have seen a rise of hate crimes against our elderly Asian community, and I want to make it clear that we won't tolerate it," she said. " San Francisco will continue to support and uplift our Asian community ... the xenophobia and discrimination against our Asian community has been really horrible."

San Francisco police said they are working with federal law enforcement and Asian American-Pacific Islander community organizations to coordinate stepped-up enforcement efforts.

"As you may know, the San Francisco Bay Area has been seeing an alarming spike in brazen anti-Asian violence in recent weeks," the police department said on Twitter.

Eight people, six of them Asian women, were killed by a gunman at three spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday in the latest and largest outbreak of violence against Asian Americans across the country.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott decried the Atlanta violence Wednesday, calling the incidents "horrific." He said that in addition to increasing patrols in Asian American neighborhoods, police have bolstered community outreach efforts, including safety walks with volunteers trained to assist police officers.

"That presence, we hope, will deter some of these opportunistic type of crimes that are being committed in our city." he said. "The Asian American-Pacific Islander community needs to know that we stand with them. We support them. This is horrific. Any type of violent crime is horrific. But when people appear to be targeted because of their race or ethnicity, that is unacceptable."

Scott called for public help in stopping the attacks.

"We just need the public support, because this is not just a police issue," he said. "We have to pull together as a community, as we did with COVID, and really stand against this type of nonsense. It's unacceptable. We have to do our jobs but we need the community's support as well."

In the Bay Area, a surge of anti-Asian hate crimes, ranging from deadly attacks to spitting, pushing and verbal assaults, has occurred in San Francisco, Oakland and elsewhere.

Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting project from Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, recorded more than 3,800 reports of coronavirus-related discrimination in the U.S. from March, 2020 through February. Women were twice as likely as men to be victims of the attacks, a report from the organization said.

California had more attacks than any other state with 1,691, according to the report. Since the start of 2021, at least 34 Asians have been assaulted or robbed in the Bay Area, according to news reports.

Two attacks on Asian Americans took place on Market Street on Tuesday and Wednesday. A 59-year-old Vallejo man was knocked to the sidewalk near Montgomery Street Tuesday, possibly causing him to lose his eyesight. A man was arrested for the attack and an earlier assault in the Mission district.

Wednesday morning, police said, a 39-year-old man who had been involved in a fight in United Nations Plaza earlier attacked an 83-year-old Asian man. When a security guard intervened, he fled, pausing to assault a 75-year-old Asian woman and she beat him until he stopped. Both victims were taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect, who was not identified, was also taken to the hospital for an unrelated medical condition.

Police announced the arrest of three Antioch men in the beating and robbery of a 67-year-old Asian man in a Chinatown laundromat in February. Police arrested Calvin Berschell, Jason Orozco and Nolowde Beshears, all 19 and from Antioch. The victim, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, told police the men threw him to the ground and took his property.

(c)2021 the San Francisco Chronicle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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