SAN MATEO COUNTY (KPIX 5) — The president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors wants to make the county a “zero tolerance hate zone” in response to recent hate crimes committed against people of Asian descent.
Supervisor David Canepa said he plans to introduce on Tuesday, a proposal “condemning hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander community and to establish the county as a zero tolerance hate zone from Daly City to Menlo Park.”
The bill, if approved, would essentially unify the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, various surrounding law enforcement agencies, and surrounding municipalities behind a single, clear stance against hate crimes.
“We’re all aligned, and we want to make sure that we don’t tolerate this in our county,” Canepa told KPIX 5. “We can no longer just sit back and listen to our Asian American friends and neighbors tell these continuing stories of being victims of violent, racist hate crimes — we must take swift and defining action to stop the hate through bold policies.”
In the immediate aftermath of last week’s spa shootings in metro Atlanta that left six Asian women dead, Cherokee County Sheriff’s spokesperson Capt. Jay Baker described the suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, as having a “really bad day”, which triggered a widespread backlash.
“He does claim that it was not racially motivated, he apparently has an issue. A sex addiction,” said Baker.
Following the comments, internet sleuths unearthed a social media post where Baker was promoting t-shirts with disparaging words about China and COVID-19. Baker has since been relieved of his duties as spokesperson for the case.
Two days after the spa shootings, a 69-year-old woman was attacked and robbed in a Daly City neighborhood. The entire incident was captured on surveillance camera.
“And we’ve seen it in Atlanta. ‘Oh it’s, it’s someone’s mental health.’ You know, we’re making all these excuses,” said Canepa. The bill would encourage investigators to be mindful of hate crime motives.
“We all have different biases, right? But making sure that that bias doesn’t cloud their judgment. And basically looking at looking at it with an equity lens to make sure that the right thing is done, regardless,” said Canepa.
The incident in Daly City on Thursday left Anna Louie shaken. Trips outside are filled with fear and anxiety of a possible attack. Passage of Canepa’s bill would indeed make her feel a bit safer, and hopes that it will spread beyond San Mateo County.
“I want to say yes. Definitely, it’s a start somewhere. They have to be accountable,” said Louie.
Reyna Meafua, a longtime community activist, hopes the bill will be a deterrent for future attacks.
“And this needs to be passed. Because if it’s not, what else do you want? What other group is going to be targeted?” said Meafua.
Pastor Alesana Eteuati of the First Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa in Daly City, said his congregation of 200 members is living in fear. The pastor offered a message for those who wish to cause harm in the county and beyond.
“I pray for you that you change your attitude, change your mindset and change your actions to others. Embrace other people,” said Eteuati.
Canepa will introduce the bill at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. The board is expected to hold a final vote on the bill April 5.