SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A longtime San Francisco resident and US Army veteran said he was attacked for wearing a veteran’s hat on a grocery shopping trip in the city.
Ron Tuason, 56, shared photos of his injuries with KPIX 5, after he said a man yelled racial insults, and then punched him multiple times, knocking him to the ground on Mar. 13 around 4 pm at Ocean and Plymouth Avenues.
Tuason had been carrying his groceries and waiting at the bus stop. He also relies on a cane.
“When he noticed me, he got aggressive and charged across the street, ‘Go back where you came from, you caused this problem’, referring to COVID, and do you want to get hurt? You’re not a veteran, I’m a veteran,'” recalled Tuason.
Tuason, who is of Filipino, Chinese and Spanish descent, said he tried to take video with his cell phone, but the suspect knocked it out of his hand.
San Francisco Police said the victim tried to deescalate the situation. It didn’t work.
“I had one arm out, my left arm, but he sidestepped that and came in from the outside, and he waylaid me, and he laid me out right here and it was very swollen,” said Tuason. “There was a chain link fence and I hit the steel post, and I was followed up with two lefts and a knee.”
Tuason said he is a proud veteran, who was a combat engineer in Louisiana and Germany in the 1980s.
“Because of the color of my skin, and because I like to wear a hat that says I served – that people who are minorities who are often neglected, overlooked invisible – we served,” he added.
SFPD located the suspect shortly after the assault.
Officers arrested 53-year-old Victor Brown for assault, battery with the hate crime enhancement, resisting arrest and possession of narcotic paraphernalia. Brown had three outstanding warrants prior to this arrest, including for battery of a bus driver in Santa Clara County and battery in the city of San Jose.
Over the weekend, Mayor London Breed set forth plans to bring back something similar to the Guardian Angels in San Francisco.
SFPD Chief Bill Scott and District Attorney Chesa Boudin weighed in on adding safety patrols during Monday’s District 10 public safety forum.
“I think it’s a good thing, and I think it’s right in line with what President Walton said about ambassadors and putting people on the streets who aren’t police officers with guns and stars, but can actually make a difference in the respective communities,” said Scott.
Supervisor Shamann Walton said he plans to add such patrols in his district.
“If there are ways that are less expensive or more grounded in community, that we can be creative about preventing crime, about leveraging public safety resources to focus on things that may not require a police response, we’re all going to be safer as a result,” added Boudin.