52-year-old Nancy Arechiga was apprehended by San Leandro police in relation to a number of xenophobic notes posted at the homes of East Bay Asian Americans, as well as in nearby public places, though she was later released due to the state’s backed-up bail schedule caused by the pandemic.
Since the coronavirus entered into our collective lexicons, incidences of hate crimes against Asian Americans have steadily increased. (Case in point: remember the elderly Asian man who was robbed of his shopping cart while collecting aluminum cans in Bayview? We do.) This week, a string of racist pennings telling members of the group to "go back to the countries [they] came from" began popping up at certain San Leandro homes and common spaces.
RACIST LETTER: can you help identify this woman?— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) May 23, 2020
A family in San Leandro is asking for your help. They say this person is going around to homes belonging to people of color & taping these letters to the door. #racism #hate #COVID pic.twitter.com/BzFyS46JPs
"It was shocking and the whole family was really shaken up at it,” says Trihn, choosing to use only her first name for safety concerns, to ABC7's Dion Lim after she and her family came across one such letter at a nearby park Friday. “I can't comprehend hatefulness reading this letter sends chills down my spine."
Per Trihn, the letter included the following passage:
You, because we consider you're a stranger, one bad person for this country, leave, go far away, go back to your country, the place you belong. Leave this place. You have until the day May 23, 2020, Saturday [at] 10:30 a.m. to leave this country place no Asian allowed. My Country [USA.]
The SLPD (San Leandro Police Department) had also investigated a similar incident Thursday when a different racist epistle was secured on an information board at Heron Bay trail that read "no Asians allowed, leave immediately." All in all, at least five of these like-xenophobic notes were placed and later found around San Leandro's Heron Bay community — which did not go unnoticed by Mayor Pauline Cutter.
"I am aware of reports that a woman was posting flyers containing anti-Asian massages at residences and public places in our community yesterday," the San Leandro mayor wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.
After a Ring doorbell security camera captured her in the act and was then posted on social media, as well as given to the SLPD for use, 52-year-old San Leandro resident Nancy Arechiga was arrested hours later form "inappropriate posts towards minorities." Her backpack, per police, had multiple other letters inside of it at the time of her arrest.
“It was very heartbreaking to know that there are people out there who believe that this is OK.”— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) May 24, 2020
Just spoke to Trihn who found not only a racist letter on her family’s home in San Leandro but another on a tree in her neighborhood. #hateisavirus #CoronaVirusUpdates pic.twitter.com/15cq9zh6eO
"I’d like to commend our Police Department for taking this situation extremely seriously. They were able to identify the person responsible within a matter of hours and take appropriate action right away," Cutter added in response to the fifty-something's arrest.
However, according to SFGate, Arechiga was soon released after she was taken in at Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail in Dublin due to California's backed-up bail schedule; she was cited and sent on her way.
This month, the Judicial Council of California ordered a temporary emergency bail schedule, reducing bail to zero for misdemeanor crimes to avoid prison overcrowding amid the pandemic. In Arechiga's specific case, her conduct appears to have been considered of such severity, given her swift release and a scrolling through the state's penal code on "hate crimes."
Trihn was, admittedly, displeased with how the situation was handled: "It just tells me they don't take hate crime seriously."
SLPD is asking if anyone has information similar to this incident, to contact the department at (510) 577-2740. And because of Trihn's bravery in speaking out on the subject, SLPD has increased police patrols in the area.
Similarly, the SFPD (San Francisco Police Department) is requesting people who’ve observed a hate crime in San Francisco to call the Hate Crimes Unit at (415) 553-1133.
Image: Facebook via Trinny Wynn