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California man charged with hate crimes for targeting South Asian women in necklace robbery spree

  • Lathan Johnson, 37, is facing robbery and hate crime charges after allegedly targeting South Asian women in a two-month robbery spree in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Beginning in June, Johnson snatched approximately $35,000 worth of necklaces off of at least 14 women in San Jose, Milpitas, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, according to prosecutors.
  • In one incident, Johnson allegedly shoved the victim to the ground and punched her husband before grabbing a $1,000 necklace off her neck.
  • Almost all of the victims were wearing a sari, bindi or other types of ethnic attire when they were attacked.
  • Johnson, of East Palo Alto, is scheduled to be arraigned today on hate crime charges.

A man has been charged with hate crimes after targeting South Asian women in a two-month robbery spree in the San Francisco Bay Area, prosecutors said on Monday.

Lathan Johnson, 37, of East Palo Alto, is accused of snatching necklaces from at least 14 women — aged 50 to 73 — and injuring some of them in the process.

San Francisco street walked by Vicha Ratanapakdee is renamed after him

  • Sonora Lane, a street in San Francisco, was renamed Vicha Ratanapakdee Way in honor of the late Thai immigrant whose image helped galvanize the Stop Asian Hate movement.
  • Ratanapakdee, 84, died two days after being shoved during an unprovoked attack along Anza Vista and Fortuna Avenues on Jan. 28, 2021.
  • His alleged assailant, Antoine Watson, has pleaded not guilty to murder and elder abuse charges.
  • A ceremony was held on Saturday at Terra Vista and Encanto Avenues to announce the renaming.

A San Francisco street was renamed on Saturday after Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Asian man who was fatally shoved last year and whose image helped galvanize the Stop Asian Hate movement.

Ratanapakdee, a Thai immigrant, was out for a morning walk along Anza Vista and Fortuna Avenues on Jan. 28, 2021, when an assailant appeared and pushed him to the ground. Ratanapakdee was found in a pool of his own blood before being rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later.

107-year-old Japanese Tea Garden Pagoda unveiled in San Francisco after 2-year, $1.1 million restoration

pagoda
  • The Japanese Tea Garden Pagoda, which was constructed for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915, was renovated and unveiled on Wednesday in San Francisco.
  • The renovation reportedly cost $1.1 million and took the Recreation and Park Department’s carpentry staff almost two years to complete.
  • The structure features five floors and stands 52 feet tall.
  • Although the pagoda’s renovation is complete, the area around its foundation will obtain a new landscape.
  • This phase of the project will begin next year along with the reconstruction of the landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara’s bridge, which serves as the pagoda’s main road.

The Japanese Tea Garden Pagoda, which was constructed for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915, was unveiled in San Francisco on Wednesday after two years of restoration.

At the end of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, which celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and a milestone in San Francisco history, the indoor pagoda was moved into the Japanese Tea Garden in 1943 by park superintendent John T. McLaren. 

Poll: Asian Americans don’t feel safe in San Francisco; only 14% predict improvement

  • According to a poll conducted by the San Francisco Chronicle, Asian American residents in San Francisco feel the least safe out of any other groups.
  • Only 14% of the 490 Asian respondents believe that living in San Francisco will be better in the next two years, the lowest rate among all ethnic groups.
  • Meanwhile, 44% of Asian Americans think that living in the city will even be worse in two years, which exceeds the 35% overall who similarly think so.
  • Asian Americans, who make up over a third of the population in the city, mostly cited safety/crime as San Francisco’s biggest issue.
  • While they acknowledged the crime problem in the city, Asian respondents were found to be the least likely to report being victimized by a crime.

Asian American residents in San Francisco feel less safe than other groups, according to a recent poll by the San Francisco Chronicle. 

As part of its SFNext project, the paper conducted a survey of 1,653 local residents belonging to different racial groups and released its findings on Sept. 14. 

Man arrested for unprovoked attack on Asian woman in San Francisco Chinatown

  • Alejandro Garcia, 30, was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly shoving a 53-year-old Asian woman in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
  • The victim, who fell and hit her head on the ground, reported the unprovoked attack herself and was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. 
  • Garcia was booked on an aggravated assault charge and is being held without bail at San Francisco County Jail.

A man has been arrested for an unprovoked assault involving a 53-year-old Asian woman in San Francisco’s Chinatown earlier this week.

Alejandro Garcia, 30, is accused of shoving the victim off the sidewalk on the 700 block of Jackson Street at around 8:25 p.m. on Tuesday.

SF DA Brooke Jenkins to review anti-Asian attacks reported under ousted predecessor Chesa Boudin

  • San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins will reportedly review anti-Asian cases filed during the term of Chesa Boudin.
  • Jenkins, who replaced Boudin after a landslide recall election in June, will begin with 12 cases that were initially investigated as hate crimes — before all but two were dropped as such.
  • The district attorney has reportedly tasked veteran trial prosecutor and former Deputy California Attorney General Nancy Tung to lead the review.
  • In response, Boudin slammed the move as a ruse, saying “playing politics” with charging decisions based on the law “will not make the city safer.”

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office will reportedly review several anti-Asian cases filed during the term of Chesa Boudin, potentially paving the way for hate crime charges.

Brooke Jenkins, who replaced Boudin after a landslide recall election, will begin with 12 cases reviewed by the San Francisco Standard and KQED in June, according to NBC News. All 12 cases were initially investigated as hate crimes, but only two were charged as such.

San Francisco rally commemorates first anniversary of Vicha Ratanapakdee mural

  • A rally commemorating the first-year anniversary of a mural created to honor Vicha Ratanapakdee was held in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Sunday.
  • Dozens reportedly attended the event to remember the 84-year-old Thai immigrant, who was shoved to his death while walking along Anza Vista and Fortuna Avenues on Jan. 28, 2021.
  • The unprovoked attack, which was caught on video, occurred at the height of pandemic-driven anti-Asian violence across the U.S. Antoine Watson, 19, has been charged with homicide but not a hate crime in connection with the incident.
  • The mural, created by Thitiwat Phromratanapongse and Sarah Siskin based on an illustration by Jonathan D. Chang, is located at Grant Avenue and California Street.
  • The attendees of Sunday’s rally helped clean the mural. There were also discussions on a street renaming project and an anti-Asian hate open forum, according to NBC Bay Area.
  • A similar but larger rally erupted in Columbus Avenue earlier this month. Around 200 reportedly marched to Chinatown in search of justice for the recent attacks on a 70-year-old Asian woman and former commissioner-at-large Greg Chew.

A rally commemorating the first-year anniversary of a mural created to honor Vicha Ratanapakdee was held in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Sunday.

Dozens reportedly attended the event to remember the 84-year-old Thai immigrant, who was fatally shoved while walking along Anza Vista and Fortuna Avenues on Jan. 28, 2021.

SF Chinatown attracts nearly 40,000 visitors during Autumn Moon Festival celebration

  • San Francisco’s Chinatown held its annual Autumn Moon Festival celebration on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Jenny Chan, the assistant director of the celebration, explained that they decided to hold the event last weekend “because we wanted for people to get the mooncake [and lanterns] ahead of time so they can actually celebrate at home with their family on the day of the Moon Festival,”
  • This year’s actual date of the Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is Sept. 10. 
  • The streets of Chinatown were filled with vendors, music and several events, including a Bruce Lee look-alike contest.
  • Around 40,000 visitors reportedly went to Chinatown to celebrate and help support small businesses.

Nearly 40,000 visitors went to San Francisco’s Chinatown over the weekend to celebrate this year’s Autumn Moon Festival.

The event typically occurs every September, but organizers decided to celebrate early this year.

SF supervisor candidate removed from ballot after providing ‘insufficient’ proof of residency

  • The Department of Elections will not include Leanna Louie’s name on the ballot for the upcoming U.S. elections on Nov. 8 after an investigation found that she is not eligible to run for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in District 4.
  • Investigators found that Louie signed a lease to rent a room at 35th Avenue on March 1. She used her family home's District 10 address to cast a ballot on April 3.
  • Louie used her District 4 address to re-register to vote on May 7. She declared her candidacy on June 3.
  • To be eligible to run for a Board of Supervisors seat, candidates must “reside and be registered to vote in their district for at least 30 days immediately preceding the date he or she files the Declaration of Candidacy,” according to the Department of Elections’ Candidate Guide.
  • “After reviewing the information gathered from the City Attorney’s investigation, the Department of Elections considers Leanna Louie’s nomination petition to be insufficient,” Elections Director John Arntz said in a news release. “The Department will not place her name on the ballot for the upcoming November 8 election.”

Leanna Louie, a candidate running for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, will no longer be included on the ballot for the upcoming elections after failing to provide sufficient proof of residency.

The City Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into Louie’s “legal domicile” after a Mission Local report pointed out that she registered her District 4 residence on May 7 to vote. Twenty-seven days later, she declared her candidacy on June 3.

Chocolate shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown teaches employees kung fu to combat crime

  • Mindy Fong, the owner of Jade Chocolates Teahouse and Cafe in San Francisco’s Chinatown, has been offering her employees lessons in kung fu since March to help them combat theft and crime in the neighborhood.
  • Fong was worried about the increase in crime and anti-Asian hate in Chinatown after the COVID-19 pandemic started.
  • She believes the kung fu lessons can prepare her employees for situations that would call for self-defense.

The owner of a chocolate shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown has been offering her employees kung fu lessons after work to help them combat theft and crime in the neighborhood.

Mindy Fong, the owner of Jade Chocolates Teahouse and Cafe, closed her shop at around 5 p.m. on a weekday in March to hold the first of many kung fu classes for her employees following the rise of reported robberies in the neighborhood.

SF DA Jenkins to Asian Americans at town hall: ‘You are now seen and heard’

  • San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins addressed a crowd on Tuesday night to discuss the recent attacks on older Asian Americans. 
  • “I come to you as a sign of change,” Jenkins was quoted as saying. “You’ve been struggling with feeling unheard and unseen... by the San Francisco D.A.’s Office. You are now seen, and you are now heard.”
  • Jenkins, who was appointed to the position just over a month ago, is running for re-election in November.
  • During her speech, Jenkins earned applause while pausing periodically to allow a translator to convey her message to those who do not speak English.
  • According to Jenkins, she would send a message that “this type of conduct is no longer tolerated in San Francisco” by holding people accountable for crimes against Asian American residents.
  • Police Chief Bill Scott acknowledged that attacks against Asian Americans in the city had been going on for over two-and-a-half years.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins earned several rounds of applause as she spoke out against the recent attacks on older Asian Americans during a town hall on Tuesday.

The town hall was organized so that concerned residents could speak and air their grievances directly to local officials in the wake of the latest wave of violence in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Teen and 2 minors aged 11 and 13 arrested for violent assault on Asian American woman, 70, in SF

  • Three assailants — aged 18, 13 and 11 — were arrested for the brutal robbery of a 70-year-old Asian American woman in San Francisco on July 31.
  • Surveillance footage shows a group of attackers punching and kicking the victim in her apartment lobby before allegedly fleeing with her belongings.
  • “They got really mad and pulled me down,” the 70-year-old victim, identified only as Mrs. Ren, told ABC7 News through an interpreter after the attack. “They used their fist to hit my head multiple times and then they pulled me down and kept kicking me.”
  • A fourth assailant, aged 14, is still at large as of Monday.
  • Darryl Moore, 18, has been charged with robbery, elder abuse, burglary, false imprisonment and conspiracy.
  • The 13-year-old and 14-year-old attackers will face the same charges but will go through the juvenile justice system.
  • Meanwhile, the 11-year-old assailant will be “a community issue” since he is too young to be charged, according to San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.

An 18-year-old man and two minors aged 13 and 11 have been arrested in connection with the brutal robbery of a 70-year-old Asian American woman in San Francisco late last month.

The incident, which was caught by a security camera, reportedly occurred in the lobby of an apartment complex in the 100 block of Francisco St. at around 5 p.m. on July 31. The group of attackers included a 14-year-old who remains at large.