Prosecutors in San Francisco and Seattle charge men with anti-Asian hate crimes
Prosecutors in San Francisco and Seattle have charged two men with hate crimes in separate incidents that authorities say targeted people of Asian descent amid a wave of high-profile and sometimes deadly violence against Asian Americans since the pandemic began.
In San Francisco, Victor Humberto Brown, 53, made a first court appearance on Friday after authorities say he repeatedly punched an Asian American man at a bus stop while shouting an anti-Asian slur.
Brown was initially booked on misdemeanor counts, but prosecutors recently elevated the case to a felony, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. He said in court that he has a post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ron Tuason, an Army veteran of Filipino, Chinese and Spanish descent, told the Chronicle he was at a bus stop in the city’s Ingleside neighborhood on March 13 when Brown approached him, yelling “Get out of my country!” before using a racial slur meant to denigrate Asian people. Tuason said Brown also said, “It’s because of you there’s a problem here.”
Tuason, 56, said he believes Brown was referring to the coronavirus. Brown punched him multiple times, he said, knocking him to the ground. He suffered a black eye and a swollen cheek as a result of the attack and said he’s also experiencing memory loss.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Koreatown on Saturday for a unity rally and march to demand an end to the surge in anti-Asian hate and violence.
Police found Brown shortly after Tuason called 911.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Los Angeles and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, the latest in a series of rallies in response to what many said has become a troubling surge of anti-Asian sentiment.
“We can no longer accept the normalization of being treated as perpetual foreigners in this country,” speaker Tammy Kim told a rally in L.A.’s Koreatown.
In Seattle on Friday, prosecutors charged Christopher Hamner, 51, with three counts of malicious harassment after police say he screamed profanities and threw things at cars in two incidents last week targeting women and children of Asian heritage, the Seattle Times reported Saturday.
According to court documents, Hamner yelled profanities and threw things at a woman stopped at a red light with her two children, ages 5 and 10 on March 16. Three days later, authorities say Hamner cut off another car driven by an Asian woman, yelled a profanity and the word “Asian” at her and then threw a water bottle at her car after charging at her as she pulled into a parking spot.
Hamner was being held on $75,000 bail on Saturday. It wasn’t immediately clear if Hamner, who has not yet made a court appearance, had retained an attorney or would be assigned a public defender.
In the first instance, the woman told her 10-year-old daughter to try to take a cellphone photo of the man. The woman, identified by KIRO-TV as Pamela Cole, posted about the incident on social media and a friend’s husband identified Hamner as a possible suspect.
The second woman who was accosted had a dashboard camera in her vehicle that captured the license plate of the other car, which is registered to Hamner, according to court documents. The police detective investigating the case reviewed the video and determined the women’s assailant “was clearly Hamner,” according to the charges.
Cole, who said she identifies as part Chinese and part Malaysian, told KIRO-TV she felt like “a sitting duck” when Hamner approached her car, pounding his fists together and screaming at her to “Get out! Get out!” while spewing profanities about her Asian heritage.
“I was in complete shock. ‘Are you talking to me?’” Cole said she asked the man.
“He jumps out the car and he’s charging at us,” she said. “That was the scariest part for me.”
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