gavel.jpgA transient accused of a racially motivated attack on San Francisco’s Market Street on Wednesday afternoon pleaded not guilty today to hate crime charges, prosecutors and police said.

Hosea Matavao, 48, pleaded not guilty to charges of battery and child endangerment with hate crime enhancements in connection with an attack that occurred at about 1:35 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Market and Eighth streets.

A couple was walking by Matavao with their 3-year-old and 20-month-old children in a stroller when he directed a racially derogatory comment toward them, police said.

When the mother responded, Matavao allegedly attacked her, punching her in the face repeatedly, then punched her husband in the nose when he tried to intervene, according to police.

The mother tried to leave with her children in the stroller but was followed by Matavao, who kicked a tarp on the stroller, causing it to contact the top of the 3-year-old’s head.

When a witness tried to intervene, he was also punched by the suspect, police said.

Two security guards who were nearby at the Civic Center Farmer’s Market were called to assist by an employee at the market and were able to take Matavao into custody.

The victims in the attack suffered minor facial injuries and did not require hospitalization, according to police.

Matavao was ordered held on $500,000 bail at his arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court this afternoon, district attorney’s spokesman Omid Talai said.

He will return to court for the preliminary hearing on Nov. 3, Talai said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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