Eric McBurney, a Taiwan-born public defender from San Francisco, has received hate mail for representing Steven Jenkins, the 39-year-old homeless man accused of attacking a 75-year-old grandmother in March.
The defense: McBurney, 48, told The New York Times, Jenkins’ “mind is broken.”
- McBurney further explained that the case has “nothing to do with anti-Asian hate,” adding, “Mr. Jenkins in the last five years has had five mental illness emergencies each year, on average.”
- The defense lawyer also played the footage of the events preceding the attack on Xiao Zhen Xie. There, it showed Jenkins, who has been homeless for over a decade, mingling with other homeless people in the U.N. Plaza area.
- Unidentified individuals were also seen assaulting Jenkins.
- Jenkins also attacked another Asian, which was not captured on camera.
Hate and disapproval: In the interview, McBurney admitted he knew what he was getting into when the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office assigned him the case.
- His extended family from Taiwan also criticized him when they discovered he is defending Jenkins.
- McBurney, who was adopted by a white couple when he was a teen, said he understood the racism against Asians, having experienced it and otherness growing up “in cities where I am the entire Asian population,” according to SFist.
- Despite all the negativity, McBurney said he loves it and that he sees this kind of attention as “extra motivation.”
- “It’s when the whole world is against your client, that’s when a public defender says, ‘Yeah, this is my job,’” he said.
Xie’s family raised nearly $1 million through GoFundMe. On a Monday update, her family said she will keep $120,000 and will be donating most of it to the nonprofit, Asian Community Assistance Association (ACAA), whose goal is to “continue protecting the AAPI community, promoting safety, and preventing any further increase in Asian hate crimes.”