Two of California’s most progressive cities, Oakland and San Francisco, have seen a string of attacks against Asian Americans in recent months. For California Democrats, the response to this crime wave is not to punish criminals and protect law-abiding citizens, but to to the exact opposite.
A controversial crime bill now going through the Democratic-led California legislature is seeking to decriminalize robbery from a felony to a misdemeanor. The bill is sponsored by Democrat Senator Nancy Skinner, whose district covers from East Bay to Oakland, where Asian Americans have experienced increased attacks.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “since the start of 2021, at least 32 Asians have been assaulted or robbed in the Bay Area.” Look at just a few of the most recent crimes here:
- Oakland, April 2, 2021, four people robbed two Asian seniors in front of their house. Fortunately, the couples’ son was home, and he chased the robbers away by waving a machete.
- Oakland, April 1, 2021, robbers tied an Asian couple in front of their 7-year-old daughter and brutally beat the husband before stealing the couple’s life savings.
- Oakland, March 9, 2021, a 75-year old Asian man, Pak Ho, was robbed and knocked to the ground by 26-year old Teaunte Bailey during Ho’s morning walk. Ho died two days later. Bailey has a criminal history dating back to 2012, including multiple felonies in Oakland, and only last month was he involved in an arm-robbery in San Francisco.
- San Francisco, February 23, 2021, three people robbed and cruelly beat up a 67-year-old Asian American man in a Laundromat. The suspects were arrested, and they were wanted in connection to multiple auto burglaries in the area.
- Oakland, February 10, 2021, in broad daylight, two young men attacked a 71-year-old Asian lady by” knocking her to the ground before yanking her purse so hard the strap breaks off.” The old lady is bruised and still has body aches.
It is in the wake of these events that Sen. Skinner introduced SB- 82 to decriminalize robbery. Under existing California law, robbery is a felony and is punishable with prison time. SB-82 would turn robberies from a felony into a misdemeanor called petty thefts, as long as the economic value of the loss is under $950 and the crime doesn’t involve weapons or cause the victim severe injuries.
Under SB-82, the penalty for petty theft would be six months to one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. Offenders would qualify for a diversion program, a rehabilitation program that allows the offender to avoid conviction and, in some jurisdictions, avoid a criminal record.
SB-82 is also designed to be retroactive. It would change and reduce the criminal penalty for even those already convicted of robbery and are currently serving jail time.
Under SB-82, some of the recent robbery cases I just mentioned, including the robbery of the senior Asian couple and the robbery of the 71-year-old Asian woman, would all be reclassified as petty theft. Since SB – 82 is retroactive, many of the 961 strong-arm robberies in the city of Oakland will be reclassified as petty thefts. Those perpetrators will receive much lighter sentences than they would under current law.
Skinner justified her new crime bill in the name of achieving social justice because she regards a felony charge of robbery and the punishment that comes with it as unfair to certain racial groups. In truth, like so many other woke initiatives Democrats have been promoting, all SB-82 will end up doing is to hurt people of all races who don’t enjoy the privileged life Skinner does.
Politicians like Skinner should have learned from their last disastrous crime reform bill. In 2014, voters passed the notorious Proposition 47, which reduces penalties for specific drug and property crimes such as drug possession, theft, and shoplifting.
Among other things, Prop 47 more than doubled the amount a suspect could steal before facing a felony from $450 to $950. Prop 47 also “allows certain offenders who have been previously convicted of such crimes to apply for reduced sentences.” The Democrats in California marketed Prop 47 as a “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” Many voters bought the lie and passed the measure with a wide margin.
But since Prop 47’s passing, neighborhoods and schools in California have become less safe. Car burglaries, shoplifting, other theft, and criminal activities have surged in the state. A study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California concludes that the jump of these crimes results from fewer arrests and a more lenient criminal sentence, mandated by Prop 47.
California cops on the street don’t need a study to tell them that Prop 47 is to blame for rising crimes in their district. The Police Chiefs Association tried to sponsor legislation that would amend Prop 47, adding a felony for serial theft with a value of $250 below the pre-Prop 47 limits. The Californian Democrats not only defeated this sensible legislation, but now want to make the criminal law even more lenient by changing any theft up to $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor. Should SB-82 pass, the crime rate will only go up.
Not surprisingly, SB-82 has already drawn intense criticism from law enforcement agencies and Asian American community in Skinner’s district.
On its Facebook page, the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office said SB-82 will treat violent crime with “barely a slap on the wrist.” It went on to say that SB-82 “would allow criminals to beat someone to steal their property, and as long as they didn’t use a weapon, break any bones, or cause great bodily injury, it will be a misdemeanor. Do they even care about victims in Sacramento?”
Asian American organizations outraged about the bill staged a protest in Oakland’s Chinatown. Carl Chan, president of the Chinatown Chamber, believes SB-82 will “reward those who commit crime and punish the victims.” Given that the Asian American community is already on edge about the rising crimes against their community, Alan Auyeung of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce said the bill’s timing shows politicians are “tone deaf” of the community’s concern.
Democrats who claim to stand with the Asian American community against hate crimes are the same ones who will vote to endanger Asian American victims and fail to protect those most vulnerable. They continue to spread lies that the rising crimes against Asian Americans result from “white supremacy” and former President Trump’s rhetoric on the coronavirus, even though most crimes against Asian Americans in recent months were committed by non-white perpetrators who were going after property.
Although many Asian Americans are beginning to see through Democrats’ empty rhetoric, lies, and dangerous policies, a majority of Asian Americans still keep showing up for the Democrat party at ballot boxes. In 2012, President Barack Obama won 73 percent of the Asian-American vote, exceeding his support among Hispanics (71 percent) and women voters (55 percent).
In 2016, 79 percent of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters supported Hillary Clinton. The 2020 presidential election result shows that although Trump made inroads with AAPI voters by winning 34 percent of AAPI votes, most AAPI voters still supported the Democrat Presidential candidate Joe Biden.
SB-82 should serve as the latest wake-up for Asian Americans in California. We need to ask ourselves: why are we voting for a party that doesn’t see us as equal to other racial groups and is willing to impose laws and regulations that harm our interests and safety, all in the name of social justice and equity? For Asian Americans, our political awakening must begin at the ballot box if we want to keep our families, elders, and community safe.