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Oakland Protesters Fear Proposed Bill Would Turn Violent Attacks On Asians Into 'Misdemeanors'

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- Police were investigating another brazen robbery in Oakland's Chinatown Friday afternoon. It happened around 1:45 pm. Oakland police said a man robbed a woman and hit her with the getaway car.

Some people worried this type of robbery will become even more common if Senate Bill 82 passes in California. East Bay State Senator Nancy Skinner wrote the bill. Under SB 82, robberies under $950 that don't involve deadly weapons or result in serious injuries would be considered petty thefts.

Opponents are very angry about this bill. They said the bill would lead to more robberies and attacks. That was why some people held a demonstration against the bill outside of the state building in Downtown Oakland Friday morning.

"The physical wound was not as severe as the wound in my heart," said Fremont Vice Mayor Yang Shao.

Vice Mayor Shao was one of the speakers at the rally. He rolled up his pant sleeve to show KPIX 5 the scars on his right knee from a violent robbery back on June 6, 2019. He said three people robbed him of his cellphone as the BART train he was riding stopped at the Oakland Fruitvale Station. When he chased after them, they pushed him down the escalator.

"I tumbled down. When I stood up, I could barely walk. Both of my knees were bleeding," said Shao.

"We condemn SB 82 which simply emboldens people to rob. And it's disastrous," said Frank Lee, the president of Organization for Justice and Equality.

If SB 82 passes, Chinese community leaders said many of the recent robberies targeting seniors would be reclassified as petty thefts.

"If SB 82 passes, it will promote robbery in Fremont," said Shao.

State Senator Skinner said her bill doesn't downgrade violent robberies. She released a statement saying, "I strongly condemn the attacks and hate crimes that members of our Asian-American community are experiencing. These attacks must end, and I am committed to working with API leaders to confront and end the lies and propaganda that are feeding racism and intolerance."

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