Leaders in Oakland’s Chinatown came out Saturday to oppose proposed legislation they believe sends the wrong message in light of recent crimes against members of the Asian community.
The Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, who organized the event said they are concerned about the possible unintended consequences of Senate Bill 82. SB-82 is a new bill proposed by East Bay state senator Nancy Skinner.
In a statement in part from state senator Nancy Skinner’s office, the purpose of SB- 82 which is supported by the state penal code revision committee is to clarify state law so that non-violent cases of theft are not charged as violent felonies.
The proposed bill has people extremely concerned saying criminals would be emboldened to keep targeting the Asian community even after a series of attacks have received national attention.
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People like Carl Chan of Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce said now is not the time to make a criminal justice reform like SB-82 would. “It’s only fair they would have to understand how this bill would affect not only the victims and the entire community when people are not feeling safe walking the streets and it’s so sad,” Chan said.
Skinner’s statement condemned the recent spate of violent assaults on elder Asian residents and called the recent brutal attack on an elderly man in Oakland "an absolute travesty."
With regard to SB-82, Skinner stated that if enacted the proposed bill will not change or reduce the criminal penalty on violent assaults. Violent thefts would remain as felonies.
Still, opponents like Chan said they are worried that merchants and people could end up more expose to thefts and other crimes and that it doesn’t take much to escalate.
"Even though they may be not so hurt, so called seriously mentally, they will be devastated for their whole life for that reason we are here united and sending a message strongly saying we don’t want this SB-82," he said.