San Francisco, CA – Video has gone viral of bystanders taunting an elderly Asian man as he was violently attacked and beaten with a metal pole during a robbery (video below).
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) announced that its Special Investigations Division (SID) is investigating the attack as a potential hate crime, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
“The inflammatory language used in the video could suggest a possible hate crime occurred and as such SFPD SID will be taking lead,” the SFPD said.
Cell phone footage of the attack – which appeared to take place near a public housing complex near Osceola Lane and La Salle Avenue in Bayview – quickly went viral after it was posted to Instagram on Sunday, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
The elderly man was out collecting bags of recyclables when he was abruptly confronted by a large, black male, the New York Post reported.
Cell phone footage showed the suspect as he menacingly walked towards the elderly victim, waving a long metal pole in his direction.
“Uh oh! He’s scared!” one onlooker taunted. “He just robbed your dumb -ss!”
“Go get your cans, man! Don’t be scared,” another bystander yelled.
The victim attempted to make his way past the crowd towards the cart containing his bags of recyclables, but the suspect chased him away yet again, this time beating him about the head with the metal pole, the video showed.
The victim scurried away as bystanders laughed and made barking noises.
When he turned around once more, he saw the suspect unloading the bags from the cart he had stolen from him.
“I hate Asians, n—-r!” an onlooker declared, just after he told the victim to try to get his “s–t” from the attacker once more.
The elderly man broke down into tears, apparently accepting the fact that any attempt to regain his property would be futile.
The person recording the scene immediately shoved his phone into the desperate victim’s face as onlookers mimicked his cries.
In a second video, two uniformed private security guards who patrol the Housing Authority properties were seen instructing the robbery victim to leave the area, KTVU reported.
Investigators have been attempting to identify the victim, suspects, and witnesses seen in the video.
“We appreciate everyone bringing this video to our attention,” the SFPD tweeted on Monday. “At this time, we would like to announce we have initiated an investigation into this matter and we are attempting to ID the victim and/or witnesses. Anyone with further information is asked to contact us.”
On Thursday, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott announced the arrest of 20-year-old Dewayne Grayson, KTVU reported.
Grayson, who allegedly recorded the attack, has been charged with elder abuse, hate crime, and suspicion of robbery.
He was already on probation for a previous robbery conviction when the incident occurred, according to KNTV.
Investigators have also identified the suspect who attacked him with the metal pole, but have not yet located him, according to The Daily Journal.
Police have located the 68-year-old victim, who told them he had pain in the back of his head from being struck by the suspect.
He was otherwise uninjured.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said that the footage, which has been viewed over 3.7 million times, is not reflective of the city as a whole.
“The actions depicted in this video are shameful and are not reflective of the San Francisco we can, and should be,” Breed tweeted. “Violence, bullying, and harassment are unacceptable and have no place in our city. We need to work to bring our communities together, not sow hatred and division.”
The attack occurred in the midst of growing fears that the city’s Chinese population are specifically being targeted by criminals, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
“[It’s] incredibly disheartening to once again see this level of cowardice and hatred directed toward Asian American seniors in our city,” San Francisco Police Commissioner John Hamasaki told the paper.
“We need to come together as a community to not only denounce this type of violence but end it,” Hamasaki added.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation that will require law enforcement agencies to publicly release crime victims’ demographic data, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
“This new information will help our public safety agencies, policy makers and the general public better understand crime trends and how they impact different communities,” Supervisor Gordon Mar said in a statement. “Better data means more effective crime prevention strategies to ensure that all communities feel safe and are safe.”
Watch cell phone footage of the ruthless attack in the video below: