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.
One case was an assault of a Chinese immigrant who had been collecting recyclable cans. While Boudin charged his actual assailant, a second man who used hateful language while filming the incident got away; Jenkins thinks the office could have pushed for hate crime charges.
The district attorney has reportedly tapped veteran trial prosecutor and former Deputy California Attorney General Nancy Tung to lead the review. Tung herself ran for the DA’s office in 2019 but lost to Boudin.
Boudin, who was ousted from the post in June, was heavily criticized for his soft-on-crime policies, which some alleged to be politically motivated. Asian Americans, who have become disproportionate targets of violence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, were the greatest driving force of his recall.
“I don’t understand politics, and I barely even speak English,” Wai-fong Lam, 64, told the San Francisco Examiner in Cantonese on the day of Boudin’s recall election. “But I do know that we no longer feel safe in this city, and that my grandchildren’s good grades will no longer be enough to get them into the best public schools. Someone needs to be held accountable.”
Asian Americans also drove the recalls of three progressive members of the San Francisco School Board back in February. Lam was among them, marking the first time she’s ever voted since arriving in the U.S. some 40 years ago.
Aside from reviewing past anti-Asian cases, Jenkins has also paused Boudin’s restorative justice program, which sought to find alternatives to incarceration. Through a spokesperson, she said Boudin himself is to blame.
“The previous agreement did not provide an opportunity for our office’s staff to adequately assess the suitability of referrals to this program or ensure that victims were fully informed and knowingly consenting to participate in the program,” Randy Quezada, the DA’s office’s communications director, told SFGate.
“Restorative justice means that victims are properly informed, and unfortunately that was not the case here,” Quezada added. “District Attorney Jenkins plans to resume referrals once a new agreement is in place.”
Boudin has responded to Jenkins’ plan to review past cases in an email to NBC News. He reportedly called the move misinformed and “deeply disappointing.”
“Playing politics with charging decisions made by veteran prosecutors based on the law and the evidence gathered by police is a ruse and it will not make the city safer,” Boudin said.