Asians cry ‘hate crime’ fueling Cal. black-Asian racial tensions

From The San Francisco Chronicle - A rash of high-profile attacks involving black suspects and Asian victims in San Francisco and Oakland have prompted cries of racial hate crimes...

From Nanette Asimov, The San Francisco Chronicle:

At least four high-profile attacks involving blacks and Asians have occurred since January in San Francisco and Oakland, including the beating death of Tian Sheng Yu, 59, last month. Two 18-year-old men have been charged with the murder.

Rongshi Chen, 64, was assaulted last fall in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley by a pair of men Chen could only identify as “young and black”. They kicked his ribs, broke his collarbone and made off with $200, credit cards and Chen’s identification. No one caught the attackers.

Now Chen and his family have joined a chorus of voices in the Bay Area saying that the increasingly visible and deadly incidents of black-on-Asian violence are racially motivated.

“I don’t like to say this is race discrimination, but I have to say it!!!” Rongshi Chen’s daughter-in-law, Si Chen, wrote in an e-mail.

Others – including the police chiefs of San Francisco and Oakland – are just as emphatic that the problem is not hatred of Asian Americans, but a hazardous collision between angry young men and a vulnerable population with cash in their pockets.

Those groups often live side by side in low-income neighborhoods, yet know little about each other, rarely talk, and almost never mix, say members of both communities.

“We live in one of the most liberal areas of the country, but this is one of the most segregated cities I’ve ever seen,” said Chris Jackson, a San Francisco City College trustee who is African American.

Signs of unity

Examples of harmony between the two communities certainly exist. Last Sunday, Chinese American mourners accompanied Yu’s widow, Zhi Rui Wang, to the African American Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland in a show of unity.

When the pastor called for all crime victims to stand, dozens of worshipers rose in poignant testimony to the idea that violence is colorblind.

Though her husband was slain, and her son, Jin Cheng Yu, was beaten by black youths in Oakland, “Mrs. Yu has made the effort to reach out, and African Americans have been reaching out,” said Oakland Councilwoman Jean Quan, who was at the church.

Police downplay race

Oakland police say they’ve heard no hate speech from the two black teenagers arrested in the Yu case.

“It’s very rare for hate crimes to take place in Oakland,” Deputy Chief Jeffrey Israel told a standing-room-only crowd of Asian Americans who gathered Wednesday night at a Chinatown restaurant in Oakland.

Oakland police said Asian Americans – 15.6 percent of the population, according to recent census data – were victims in only a small percentage of aggravated assaults last year (5.3 percent) and robberies (18 percent) as a proportion of their population in the city.

In addition, Asian Americans acknowledge that many victims fail to report crimes because they are ashamed or afraid.

Worried about racism

Tuesday in San Francisco, hundreds of Asian Americans showed up to tell the Board of Supervisors their stories of being attacked, and to rally against violence.

Si Chen talked about Rongshi Chen’s beating and objected, for the record, that police put her father-in-law’s case on inactive status.

In an interview by e-mail, which she said was easier than speaking English, Si Chen acknowledged that she did not actually know any black people.

Asked what the solution to the violence might be, Chen was certain:
“To be good parents. Family responsibility!!! School responsibility!!!”

Continue to the full article at The San Francisco Chronicle.