The victim, an elderly man surviving by collecting recycling to sell, was robbed by a group of young men on February 22. Video footage of the incident shows the suspects stealing from their victim, while one of them attempted to strike the 68-year-old man with a weapon.
On Monday, the San Francisco district attorney announced that they are withdrawing charges and pursuing a “restorative justice” model, which relies on reconciliation with victims instead of punishing the offenders. The decision has been widely questioned, with many opting for a harsher penalty for the suspect.
However, Twitter user Sam Lew has raised some noteworthy points in favor of restorative justice.
According to Lew, the video clip of the incident broke her heart, especially the part when the elderly man was not able to hold back tears.
“Watching the video was hard. I thought about how it must have been both terrifying & infuriating to be harassed, attacked, to have days of work stolen. My heart broke when he cried. No one should EVER be treated that way — especially not our elders.”
She also addressed the growing prejudice towards African Americans among members of the Asian American community.
“And this is complicated. I see the Asian Am comm hurting over this AND showing all kinds of anti-blackness in their grief and rage, acting like we haven’t capitalized off of decades of racism & anti blackness or like our communities don’t mistreat black folks all the time.”
Lew then lamented how people often mistake incarceration for justice.
“Since the video, I’ve heard calls for harsh punishment from the AA community. Jail time. Prison. That’s justice, right? But we have to stop conflating incarceration with justice. Or that it’ll keep the public safe. Or make someone “learn their lesson.” Because it won’t. “
She also noted that sending the suspect to jail would cause a bigger rift between Blacks and Asians.
“Locking folks up tears communities apart. It justifies racism, anti-blackness & the prison industrial complex. It doesn’t create real accountability or healing for what’s happened. But restorative justice CAN do that. Or at least tries its best to. This elderly man wants to engage in restorative justice — rather than incarceration — with the young 20 yr old man who filmed his assault,” she added.
“The other part of the RJ work that is to be done is being accountable to the harm WE’VE committed against black folks and what we’re gonna do moving forward to be in solidarity when the system is designed to pit us against each other.”
She then listed some of the positive effects in the aftermath of the DA’s decision.
“I wanna add that there’s been so much good from this. Like how @ColemanSF1 & @CPASF came together w/ a beautiful statement on POC solidarity. Or how black & Asian folks came together at Hunters Pt over this wknd for an art making unity & love rally. We’re stronger together.”