By Lovepreet Dhinsa
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – District Attorney Chesa Boudin and his office announced they are working to prosecute two more cases of AAPI hate crimes, noting the office has successfully prosecuted several such cases already this year.
Boudin stated that “these acts of violence are not acceptable and will not be tolerated in San Francisco. Everyone deserves to feel safe in our city.”
A series of incidents happened this week on Polk and Clay Streets, one after the other. The perpetrator of these incidents, said the DA Office, is a transgender woman, who changed her name from Michael A. Lopez to Emmi Lopez.
These incidents occurred at approximately 8 a.m. on Monday morning, when the suspect allegedly followed two Asian women, before throwing an object that struck one of them as they ran away.
One of the victims felt fearful and warned the suspect to stop running toward her, and, out of fear that the suspect would attack her, the victim pepper-sprayed the suspect.
The suspect then had crossed the street and approached a homeless man who was lying on the sidewalk, and assaulted him with the broomstick.
A third victim saw the suspect attack the homeless man on the sidewalk and decided to intervene, but was also then assaulted by the suspect with the broomstick.
The second and third victims both sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and they were treated by medics at the scene.
Based on the descriptions provided by the three victims, the San Francisco Police Department was successfully able to locate, identify, and detain the suspect. At the time of arrest, the SFPD located methamphetamines and narcotic paraphernalia on Lopez’s person.
Lopez, 43, is facing charges of assault and battery after her involvement in hate crimes against three Asian victims. The SFPD arrested Lopez on suspicion of a hate crime, as the victims had also suggested, but the district attorney’s office continues to investigate further into a possible motive and present direct evidence.
It appears that no racist language was used against the victims, but the identity of victims seemed to have shown a pattern.
A spokesperson from the district attorney’s office, Rachel Marshall, stated that the office is “alarmed about the ongoing crimes against AAPI victims, which stem from racist and hateful rhetoric promoted by the past president, especially during the pandemic.”
The first victim urged SFPD to investigate whether racism played a key role in the attacks occurring on Polk Street. The victim tweeted, “I was attacked in SF in what I can only describe as a case of anti-Asian hate.”
The Chief of Staff for Boudin’s office, David Campos, insisted on the importance of needing concrete evidence to prove racial motivation beyond a reasonable doubt in court. Campos did ensure that “whenever something like this happens, you are always looking for any evidence of racial animus” and that they would be investigating further into this matter.
This week, Lopez pleaded not guilty to all charges at the first court appearance, in which the judge ordered a stay-in-custody order, without any pending bail. This was approved at the request of the district attorney’s office, as Lopez appeared to be a threat to AAPI community members.
Lopez’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Semuteh Freeman, requested a mental health evaluation. The attorney stated that he can confirm “that police were responding to a mental health call, and we will be supporting our client as the case moves forward.”
The district attorney’s office said it continues to remain proactive in investigating further into this case and proving racial motivation, while denouncing any hate crimes against the AAPI community.
Lovepreet Dhinsa is a junior undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. She has a passion for criminal defense law, and strives to go to law school to fight for indigent clients. As such, she is also involved in her university’s mock trial program and student government.
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