The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced a new online form and hotline Thursday so the public can report suspected hate crimes, tools prosecutors say were established partly in response to reported incidents of hate crimes against Asian Americans as a result of COVID-19.
The District Attorney’s Office said race-based crimes typically make up 50% to 60% of the county’s hate crimes, though nationwide, reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans have escalated since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
Locally, prosecutors are reviewing a case in which a 66-year-old man in San Diego allegedly attacked another man he believed was Chinese-American, according to the San Diego Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
San Diego police say that on the morning of April 25, Joseph Nguyen struck a 27-year-old Asian man with a cane after the victim asked Nguyen to socially distance as they walked past each other.
Police say Nguyen “made racial comments as he struck the victim several times on the head with his cane,” causing injuries to the victim’s face and wrists. Nguyen was booked into county jail, where he remains held on $50,000 bail, according to county jail records.
“Fighting hate crimes in all its forms is a priority for my office and these crimes won’t be tolerated,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “The COVID-19 health crisis has created some concern among victims of crime who may be unsure if law enforcement and prosecutors continue to be ready to protect the community as they respond to the pandemic. I can assure you that we are.”
Witnesses to hate crimes in San Diego County can utilize the online reporting form at www.sdcda.org/helping/hate-crimes.html, or call the Hate Crimes Hotline number at 619-515-8805. People submitting information through the DA’s hate crime tools will be contacted at a later time with information regarding the DA’s review of the report and any subsequent action taken, according to the DA’s Office.
“This reporting tool facilitates access to justice for San Diego County’s diverse communities,” Stephan said. “This tool can be used to report suspected hate crime against anyone, but we’re especially concerned right now that the Asian community will become targets of hate crime as we continue to respond to this pandemic.
“We know that people often don’t report hate crimes because of fear or shame, and we wanted to provide a direct avenue to encourage victims or witnesses to hate crimes to report.
“People can and should continue to report hate crimes to their local police departments and Sheriff’s Department. This additional reporting mechanism will act as a safety net and help ensure reports are reviewed and shared by law enforcement,” Stephan said.
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