The suspects allegedly targeted Asian women exclusively, according to the Santa Clara DA, and had a pattern of attacking women walking alone to their cars.
In the wave of attacks on Asian Americans since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the attacks on Asian seniors stand out as particularly offensive. But a prosecutor needs an ironclad case with proof to win a hate crime conviction, and must settle the question — did the attacker really choose the victim because of their Asian heritage? Or is it just that older people are easier marks, and easier to overpower?
On Wednesday, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office announced hate crime charges against six suspects in 70 crimes after a sprawling year-long investigation, according to the Bay Area News Group. And it definitely appears that yes, some of the most prolific attackers do specifically target Asian women, often seniors. They know this because according to the DA’s evidence, “ethnic slurs were allegedly used against some of the women,” and “the men allegedly targeted Asian women because they believed [Asians] ‘don’t use banks’ and would be carrying cash.”
We should specifically note the tactics. Per the Bay Area News Group, the DA says “the suspects followed the women to their cars and waited until they were inside before opening the door or breaking a window to snatch a purse from their passenger seat.”
The men are accused of being part of a robbery crew who worked in concert.
It is not clear if some or any of these suspect's alleged crimes were in San Francisco or Oakland, or tied to high-profile stories of strong-arm robberies of Asian seniors from earlier this year. But investigators say they believe the suspects could be responsible for more robberies in other Bay Area counties.
“We are sensitive to the hate aspect targeting Asian females,” San Jose Chief of Police Anthony Mata said in a statement. “I commend District Attorney Jeff Rosen for pursuing hate crime enhancements. We have tenacious investigators, and a dedicated apprehension team that was tasked with bringing these suspects to justice.”
The arrests all took place in August and September of this year, but the suspects were charged today with hate crime enhancements. According to the news group, the suspects are “Twenty four-year-old Anthony Michael Robinson of Stockton; Cameron Alonzo Moody, 27, of East Palo Alto; Derje Damond Blanks, 23, of San Jose; Hassani Burleson Ramsey, 24, of Oakland; Clarence Jackson, 21, of East Palo Alto and Malik Short, 21, of Tracy.”
As KPIX reports, the arrests came after a multi-jurisdictional investigation. Anyone with information about any crimes the suspects is asked to contact Detective Estantino #4339 of the San Jose Police Department’s Robbery Unit at (408) 277-4166.
Related: Elderly Asian Woman Attacked On Market Street Pummels Her Attacker With Stick [SFist]
Photos via San Jose Police