SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Three men were arraigned Thursday morning in connection with an alleged hate crime attack on two Mexican nationals in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood in November, District Attorney George Gascon said.
Robert Allen, 38, Anthony Weston, 32, and Justin Meskan, 29, were arraigned in San Francisco Superior Court on assault charges with hate crime enhancements. All three pleaded not guilty, prosecutors said.
In the Nov. 10 attack, five men yelled “white power” and made racist comments while attacking two Hispanic men near a Tenderloin bar, prosecutors said. Two of the five men remain outstanding, they said.
The group assaulted one victim from behind, knocking him to the ground and punching and kicking him in the face until he blacked out, according to prosecutors.
The second victim tried to intervene and was also attacked. Both men survived, but one was hospitalized, prosecutors said.
“This is an act of extreme violence,” Gascon said at a news conference at the Hall of Justice Thursday morning.
“It should raise concerns for the entire community,” he said. “We’re seeing an uptick in activity of people who are associated with white supremacist groups.”
KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:
One of the victims returned to Mexico after the attack, but the Consulate General of Mexico worked with the district attorney’s office to convince him to return to the U.S. for the duration of the court proceedings, Gascon said.
The man’s return to Mexico was due to “concerns about their safety more than concerns about their immigration status,” said Jonathan Chait, Mexico’s deputy consul general in San Francisco.
Gascon said there is “a great likelihood that there are other victims we are not aware of” who have been targeted in a hate crime, and encouraged them to come forward regardless of whether they are undocumented.
“It’s critically important for people to report these crimes to us,” he said. “Immigration status is not relevant to us in prosecuting these cases.”
Gascon said he found the attack “very uncharacteristic for this city,” but said it has helped the district attorney’s office further understand the presence of white supremacy groups in San Francisco.
He said the investigation has revealed an increase in local white supremacist activity, mostly coming from people living outside of San Francisco. He declined to go into detail so as to not compromise the case.
Allen, Weston and Meskan are scheduled to return to court on April 20.
If convicted of all charges, the men each face a maximum of 10 years in state prison.
“I think this case was really shocking to us, and we are fully committed to prosecuting this case,” said Victor Hwang, assistant district attorney.
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