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City officials, seniors condemn brutal Chinatown attacks

San Francisco Mayor London Breed joined city officials, including District Attorney-elect Chesa Boudin, to condemn the violent attack on three seniors at a popular Chinatown gathering spot over the weekend.

The assault occurred Saturday night at Portsmouth Square and video posted to social media shows suspects punching of one of seniors and knocking him unconscious. Breed and officials tried to reassure residents that safety is their top priority.

A group of seniors stood Tuesday with signs pleading for improved safety in the Chinese community, where recent brutal attacks have plagued Chinatown residents.

Breed said:

“No one should walk in this city and fear that they might get attacked for whatever reason, especially not our seniors.”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Lai Wa Wu with Chinese Progressive Association, speaks out against the brutal attack of elderly seniors on Saturday at a press conference in San Francisco, on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.

The mayor asked the crowd to look at the faces of the seniors standing behind her, saying any one of them could be somebody’s grandmother or grandfather. Breed said:

“Treat people on the streets as if they are your relatives. Would you ever want someone to do what we have seen people do to your grandparents? Just think about that.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the Chinatown neighborhood, said he has confidence police will bring the suspects to justice.

Peskin called Portsmouth Square Chinatown’s “living room,” a space that should be safe for everyone at all times of the day.

He said:

“This is where all of the seniors, all of the kids, play, congregate, socialize, and I actually see this as a kin to a home invasion robbery because this is this community’s living room. This is sacred space.”

The supervisor said police would patrol Portsmouth Square more frequently to ensure residents’ safety.

Boudin, who has yet to take over the DA’s office, said the incident highlighted the need for better victim support services, especially for those who do not speak English.

Boudin said:

“We’re not doing a good enough job with that today and one of my primary commitments as the next district attorney is to ensure we expand resources in the language and with cultural sensitivity that the victims of crimes need.”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Seniors stand with signs calling for an end to brutal attacks on older members of San Francisco’s Chinese community during a press conference Tuesday, November 13, 2019.

Lai Wa Wu of the Chinese Progressive Association also called for better community resources.

She said: 

“We also want to ensure that The City provides the resources and support that all of our community member’s need. Part of that includes that the city department provide language services for our victims. Services that our monolingual speakers so desperately require in order for them to feel truly safe.”

Police have yet to catch the suspects seen in the video, but Police Chief Bill Scott said they are following leads, including a description of the getaway vehicle, which he described as an early 2000s model Jeep Cherokee or similar SUV, dark gray in color.

Scott said:

“It’s really important that the public knows that we are here. When there is evidence that might lead to the identity of these types of criminals, because that’s what they are, bring it forward so that we can bring people to justice.”

Scott added that the department has made arrests in a number of high-profiled cases that have plagued the neighborhood. He said a suspect was arrested last month in connection with a July strong arm robbery that occurred on Chinatown’s Stockton and Pacific streets.

Police have yet to release detailed descriptions of suspects in the Saturday’s brutal attack.

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