Supervisors’ hearing on crime against Asians reveals need for citywide victims services, crime prevention plan

San Francisco supervisors Connie Chan and Gordon Mar on April 8 called to strengthen their victim support and violence prevention strategies amid an uptick of racist attacks against Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The request comes after a April 8 hearing at the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee regarding crime and violence targeting Asian American and Pacific Islanders residents.

“In the past year, we have seen an escalation of violence against Asian Americans and a surge in anti-Asian racism, and the anger, fear and sadness is debilitating our communities,” Mar said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we need to invest in Asian American communities and make sure our grandmas and grandpas and our families feel safe and protected. Expanded victim support and crime prevention efforts — in-language and culturally competent — are urgently needed.”

Chan said, “Asian and Asian Pacific Islander American communities and communities of color have always known hate and inequity against our communities exist, and the pandemic has further exposed that the hate and inequity not only exist on our streets, they also exist in our government systems.”

According to data from the group Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate — and since the onset of the pandemic a year ago — 359 incidents of racially motivated scenarios, including verbal assaults and physical violence, against AAPI residents have been reported in San Francisco.

“We’ve seen a rise in violence against our AAPI community members. We’re seeing devastating consequences of those directly impacted and their families. Those consequences include heightened sense of fear and anxiety,” Police Chief Bill Scott said at the hearing. “We have to work collaboratively to change what’s happening and the anxiety associated with fear and crime.” Scott said to address the issue, the police department has established an anonymous tip line exclusively for Mandarin and Cantonese speakers and deployed additional officers to AAPI communities and commercial corridors, among other efforts.

District Attorney Chesa Boudin said at the hearing, so far, his office has filed six hate crime cases this year. Of those six, five involve AAPI victims. Last year, Boudin’s office filed a total of nine hate crime cases, with just three of those cases involving AAPI victims.
While the District Attorney’s Office has a diverse team of victim advocates, Boudin said his office’s partnership with the community-based organizations like the Community Youth Center is invaluable, especially when serving monolingual Chinese crime victims.

But, according to Boudin, more could be done for victims, even for those whose cases remain unsolved.

“We as a city should be providing services to victims and survivors of crimes regardless of whether police are unable to solve it or whether my lawyers are able to prosecute it,” he said.

Chan and Mar are planning to introduce a resolution requesting a citywide plan to address victim support and violence prevention, as well as increased funding for community-based organizations working to support Asian victims, like the Community Youth Center.

Chan and Mar intend on working with local organizations and city departments this month in order to develop a plan by June 1.

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