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San Francisco Police Renew Call For Help Identifying Recycling Theft Victim

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Police in San Francisco renewed their call for public assistance Tuesday, hoping someone can help identify the older Asian man who was robbed of recycling in a racially charged incident in Hunters Point.

San Francisco supervisors also on Tuesday unanimously voted to require the city's Police Department to regularly report data on victims of hate crimes, among other crimes, after the video of the robbery of the Asian man went viral on social media.

Supervisor Gordon Mar initially called for the data back in July 2019, amid what he said were growing incidents in hate motivated crimes, particularly property crimes targeting Chinese residents and businesses.

The robbery happened over the weekend and was captured in a video that went viral after being posted on social media. Police tweeted their request for help from the public identifying the victim at around 5 p.m.

Video of the incident was posted on social media Sunday evening. The clip shows an older Asian man being taunted -- and at points, chased and threatened -- by at least two African-American men after they appear to have taken his shopping cart laden with garbage bags full of aluminum cans.

The area was later confirmed to be on Osceola Lane.

The confrontation, which happened in front of a crowd of onlookers outside a housing project in Hunters Point, turned uglier as one of the men loudly proclaims "I hate Asians!" and mocks the victim over the loss of his cans.

The clip created by user @nicholaaasli has amassed nearly 3 million views on Twitter since it was posted 10:48 p.m. Sunday evening. Warning: Video contains harsh language.

The inflammatory language used in the video could suggest a possible hate crime occurred and, as such, the SFPD Special Investigations Division will take the lead in the case.

"The shocking and racially-fueled attack of an older Chinese man collecting recyclables is the latest in a continual series of high-profile crime incidents targeting older Chinese community members in Chinatown, Southeast neighborhoods and the Sunset District," supervisor Mar said.

Mar's legislation will require police to issue quarterly reports on the aggregated demographic data of crime victims, like their age, race and gender. Police would also be required to report motivating factors for 15 different types of serious crimes, including hate crimes.

The legislation does not require police to gather any additional data, but simply to report available data that is already being collected. During their meeting, the Board of Supervisors also unanimously passed Supervisor Catherine Stefani's ordinance to amend the city's police code, requiring officers to obtain gun violence restraining orders for individuals in certain circumstances, barring them access to firearms.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) took to social media to speak about the discriminatory nature of the attack, likening the attack to discrimination against Chinese people due to coronavirus fears.

"Coronavirus doesn't discriminate, neither should we. As Members of Congress it's our job to dispel harmful myths while helping our communities prepare for a public health crisis. Illness should never be used to fan the flames of racism," Speier wrote on Twitter.

The office of San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents District 10 where the incident took place, issued a statement Thursday condemning the assault and robbery.

"We absolutely do not tolerate any type of senseless violence and racism towards any of our community members especially towards our most vulnerable," the statement read. "It is heartbreaking to see this type of violence occur in our community, and no one should ever have to endure this."

"Seeing something like that is very disheartening…I didn't see anyone in that video try to stop what was happening from what was going on. That's why we have to educate our community about how to treat each other right and how to make sure we work together to stop bullying, to stop any type of madness like this," Shamann told KPIX 5.

San Francisco mayor London Breed also denounced the actions of those in the video on social media, calling them "unacceptable."

"The actions depicted in this video are shameful and are not reflective of the San Francisco we can, and should be. Violence, bullying, and harassment are unacceptable and have no place in our city. We need work to bring our communities together, not sow hatred and division," Breed said on Twitter.

Anyone who recognizes the victim or has information regarding this incident is asked to call the SFPD 24-hour tip line at 1-415-575-4444.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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