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San Francisco leaders Thursday condemned two recent attacks on elderly Asian women in the Tenderloin. Police earlier this week announced the arrest of a 34-year-old male suspect.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin, stressed that residents should be able to go out walking with family and know that The City is ensuring they can do so safely.

Haney said:

“It’s going to take the district attorney. It’s going to take the supervisors. It’s going to take the mayor working together and it’s going to take the entire community coming together and saying this is not who we are and we will not accept violence against our AAPI elders or anyone in this community.”

On Monday, police said they arrested Michael Turner on suspicion that he  assaulted two elderly women in two separate incidents one week apart.

The first incident occurred Sept. 15 on the 100 block of Turk Street when the suspect struck a 78-year-old female in the head. The victim lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital where it was also discovered she suffered a broken hip, police said.

Authorities believe Turner was also involved in a Sept. 22 assault on Jones Street. In that case, a 71-year-old female was attacked while out with her son. The victim’s son told police he passed by the suspect on the sidewalk and heard a noise behind him. He found his mother unconscious when he turned around and tried to chase the suspect, but lost sight of him.

Police charged Turner with multiple felonies, including elder abuse. District Attorney Chesa Boudin said an assistant district attorney was able to detain the suspect in jail pending trial, adding:

“We will not release him until we are confident he can safely be released.”

Several AAPI community groups joined Haney in denouncing the recent attacks. Judy Young, the executive director of the Vietnamese Youth Development Center, said she was appalled by the incidents.

Young said:

“I’ve lived and worked in this neighborhood for 40 years, and I’ve never seen this increase in violence and attack on our community members.”

The Asian Pacific and Policy Council, in collaboration with Chinese For Affirmative Action and the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University, launched an online reporting tool in March to enable the AAPI community to submit reports of racism and xenophobia.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney denounces two recent attacks against elderly Asian women his district during a press conference in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.

From March 19 to August 5, the reporting center said there were 2,583 incidents of discrimination against AAPI persons.

Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, said:

“We need to better serve survivors and their families, and all the services that they’re going to need beyond the time that their wounds are healed.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents Chinatown, said attacks on the elderly Asian community in recent years led to a nearly $1 million AAPI victims services fund included in the past budget cycle.

The supervisor said:

“The trauma is emotional trauma and having those services in a culturally competent manner in language is profoundly important, and Supervisor Haney and I are going to get that money out of the door into the hands of competent organizations and professionals so that the healing can begin.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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