In response to community fears about crime directed toward San Francisco’s Asian community, Police Chief George Gascon announced today that he will boost police presence in neighborhoods in the southeastern part of the city.
The police chief said “increased concerns in certain parts of the Bayview and Ingleside areas” have prompted a redeployment of 32 officers from district stations throughout the city to walk foot beats and ride public transit in those areas. The redeployment will begin in the next couple days.
The deployment will last about four weeks and will then be reevaluated, he said.
Noting specific concerns in the Chinese-American community amid several recent and heavily publicized crimes, Gascon said officers will be highly visible “to reassure the community in that area that this is a safe place” to visit and to use public transit.
“We want to make sure that the community understands that the Police Department is committed to the safety of this area, as well as the rest of the community,” he said.
Gascon acknowledged the issue is “extremely emotional.”
“And there’s also a lot of anger, that has gone on for many years,” he said.
Most notably, on Jan. 24 an 83-year-old man, Huan Chen, was attacked by a group of youths after he left a bus stop at Third Street and Oakdale Avenue. He died from his injuries on March 19.
Police are treating the case as a homicide, and Gascon today announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Other recent crimes included the attack on a 57-year-old Chinese-American woman by youths on a San Francisco Municipal Railway platform at Third Street and Oakdale Avenue on March 22; a 29-year-old Chinese-American man who was attacked by several boys on a Muni train near Third Street and Williams Avenue on March 27; and a Muni bus driver, who is also Chinese-American, attacked and beaten by youths while driving in Visitacion Valley on April 17.
Arrests have been made in connection with the March 22 and April 17 assaults.
Each of the four cases involved Chinese-American victims and African-American suspects, though police have said there is no evidence to indicate any of the attacks would rise to the level of hate crimes.
Gascon cautioned against the notion that attacks against Asians are on the increase in those neighborhoods.
“Statistically speaking, the information doesn’t necessarily support that,” he said.
Gascon urged victims of crimes to report them to police.
City officials and community leaders have met in recent days in an effort to tamp down heightened tensions between the two communities, on Monday condemning the violence and calling for unity and greater outreach in underserved neighborhoods.
Other reactions are underway via social media on the Internet.
“There’s just so much of this, that we’re just trying to raise awareness in our community,” said Edward Hom, 35.
Since Hom began the group “Stop the Violence Against Asian Americans” on Facebook on March 28, more than 6,400 people have joined.
Hom, who lives near the Bernal Heights border with the Bayview District and was born and raised in San Francisco, said the reports of recent violence spurred him to action.
“When someone gets murdered, an 83-year-old man, that kind of just tips the scales for me, I couldn’t take it any more,” Hom said.
Hom said the issues involving the two communities have been going on for years, a product of misconceptions and stereotypes.
“What I’m thinking right now, is we’ve got to bridge the two communities together,” he said. “You don’t want to just stop the bleeding, but find out what’s making it bleed.”