At a press conference at the Hall of Justice Thursday regarding a 2010 attack on two Mexican men, DA George Gascon confirmed that his office is pursuing the assault as a hate crime. But the issue might be more serious than we think — according to both Gascon and to sources that spoke with ABC7, a recent uptick in local white supremacist activity appears to be linked to national hate groups.
On November 10, 2010, two Mexican citizens were attacked by a group of five white assailants who reportedly yelled “white power” and other racial slurs as they beat the men outside an O’Farrell St. bar. One of the victims suffered serious injuries in the assault.
The group assaulted one victim from behind, knocking him to the ground and punching and kicking him in the face until he blacked out, according to prosecutors. The second victim tried to intervene and was also attacked.
“This is an act of extreme violence,” Gascon said. “It should raise concerns for the entire community,” he said, adding that San Francisco has seen an uptick in hate crimes recently.
Three of the alleged assailants, Robert Allen, 38, Anthony Weston, 32, and Justin Meskan, 29, appeared in court this morning, on assault charges with hate crime
enhancements. All three pleaded not guilty, prosecutors said. If convicted of all charges, the men each face a maximum of 10 years in state prison.
Their trial is set for April 20, and the Mexican Consulate confirmed that one of the victims will be returning to SF from Mexico to testify. The man’s return to Mexico was due to “concerns about their safety more than concerns about their immigration status,” said Jonathan Chait, Mexico’s deputy consul general in San Francisco.
An anonymous source reportedly told ABC7 that “the FBI and Secret Service are assisting SFPD in an ongoing investigation which may result in more arrests.”
Gascon said there is “a great likelihood that there are other victims we are not aware of” who have been targeted in a hate crime, and encouraged them to come forward regardless of whether they are undocumented.
“It’s critically important for people to report these crimes to us,” he said. “Immigration status is not relevant to us in prosecuting these cases.”
A source informs ABC7 that that this hate crime case is “just the tip of the iceburg,” saying that the alleged attackers are suspected in several other hate crimes, and that their alleged accomplices are still out there, hating.
Gascon said he found the attack “very uncharacteristic for this city,” but said it has helped the district attorney’s office further understand the presence of white supremacy groups in San Francisco.
He said the investigation has revealed an increase in local white supremacist activity, mostly coming from people living outside of San Francisco. He declined to go into detail so as to not compromise the case.
Dan McMenamin of Bay City News contributed significantly to this report