Suspect arrested in series of violent attacks against Asian Americans in Oakland

Police have arrested a man in connection with three attacks targeting Asian Americans in Oakland’s Chinatown last month, CBS San Francisco reported. 

Yahya Muslim, 28, was charged with assault, battery, elder abuse and a special allegation while on bail, according to Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. The office also said Muslim had two prior felony assault convictions. 

Newly sworn-in Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong announced the arrest Monday. Muslim faces charges in the assault of a 91-year-old man on January 31 caught on video. He’s accused of assaulting two other people – a 60-year-old man and 55-year-old woman – the same day. 

Nancy O’Malley, the Alameda County District Attorney, said she’s investigating whether the attacks were racially motivated, which could adding a hate crime to Muslim’s charges. She also announced the creation of a special response unit focused on crimes against Asian Americans, especially older Asians. 

“It’s not unique to Chinatown or to the Asian community the increase in crime we’ve seen across the city and across the county, but we have seen in the last several weeks and month a very specific increase in crimes committed against Asians,” O’Malley said.

The new unit also comes after another similar attack in the Bay Area. An 84-year-old man from Thailand died after he was attacked in San Francisco on January 28. A 19-year-old man was arrested for the man’s murder and elder abuse, the San Francisco district attorney said. 

The recent spate of attacks captured national attention and prompted actors Daniel Wu and Daniel Dae Kim to donate $25,000 to a reward helping find the culprit. In an Instagram post showing the attack on the 91-year-old man, Wu said commented on the rise of attacks against Asian Americans.  

“We must do more to help the literally thousands of Americans who have suffered at the hands of this absolutely senseless violence,” he said. “We must take a stand and say, ‘no more.'”

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A post shared by Daniel Wu 吴 彦 祖 (@thatdanielwu)

CBS News senior White House correspondent Wejia Jiang asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday whether President Joe Biden has seen the videos. 

[email protected] asks what President Biden plans to do about attacks on the Asian American community, beyond his executive order denouncing xenophobia

Psaki says Biden would “support additional action on the local level or the federal level” https://t.co/Nj065CIsxp pic.twitter.com/PP3q0pFN0x

“I’m not aware that he’s seen the videos, but he is concerned about the discrimination against, the actions against the Asian American community, which is why he signed the executive order and why he’s been outspoken in making clear that attacks, verbal attacks, any attacks of any form, are unacceptable,” Psaki said. 

Days after being inaugurated, Mr. Biden signed an executive order to disavow racism and xenophobia toward Asian Americans, specifically targeting anti-Asian animus connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over a three-month period, more than 2,120 hate incidents or crimes were reported by Asian Americans between March and June of last year, according to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action. There’s been a nearly 845% increase compared to all the reported cases in 2017, 2018 and 2019 combined. The tone of the country was exacerbated by former President Donald Trump, who referred to the virus as “Kung Flu” or the “Chinese virus.”

Separately, community organizers in Oakland have established a fund to have armed private security in Chinatown. As of Tuesday, it has more than $62,000 in donations. 

Alvin Patrick contributed to this report. 

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