City Pressured to Respond to Transit Attacks

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010  |  Updated 2:30 PM PDT
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City Pressured to Respond to Transit Attacks

Communities come together to find answers

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Thanks to pressure from local Asian community leaders, Muni and the SFPD may be stepping up safety on local buses and trains.

People using the transit system have been involved in a series of recent high-profile violent attacks, specifically against Asian commuters. The most recent ugly incident came last week when two teens beat an elderly Asian man to death in Oakland. Previously, a group of teens threw a 57-year-old Asian woman from a platform; prior to that, five teens beat an 83-year-old Asian man to death in the Bayview, and another group of boys beat a 29-year old man.

In all cases, the assailants were African-American teenagers and the victims were Asian; a situation that has infused the discussion with explosive racial charges. SF Police Chief George Gascon tried to diffuse that aspect of the crimes, saying, "There really is no evidence that these are hate crimes, that these are racially motivated crimes."

Local Asian leaders beg to differ, and arranged rallies, vigils, and protests to pressure transit agencies and the police to increase enforcement.

In response, the SFPD highlighted the Safe Haven Program, which encourages victims to escape violent attacks by fleeing into local businesses.

After the recent deaths, Mayor Gavin Newsom finally intervened, meeting with community leaders from the Bayview and Visitacion Valley and promising to do more to "reach out." Whether those efforts are enough to prevent further deaths or diffuse racial tensions remains to be seen.

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