A silent protest took place at Portsmouth Square on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019 after three people were injured there in an attack over the weekend. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Chinatown robbery prompts silent protest condemning violence against seniors

The attack injured three men in their 60s and was captured on video

Demonstrators silently protested violence against Chinese seniors Monday after a brutal robbery injured three people in Chinatown over the weekend.

The robbery was captured on a video Saturday night that showed two of the seniors being punched to the ground at Portsmouth Square by a group of men who then sped away in an SUV. One of the victims appears to have been knocked out cold.

The attack comes as heightened attention is being paid to acts of violence against Chinese seniors across San Francisco.

On Monday, three protesters meditated in silence near the corner of Walter U Lum Place and Clay Street, where the latest attack happened. They sat next to a sign condemning “another violent incident against Chinese seniors.”

“We are saying no more in silence,” the sign read.

The demonstrators included Sasanna Yee, a woman whose 88-year-old grandmother was found in a playground across from her house in Visitacion Valley this January after being brutally beaten and robbed.

A friend who spoke for Yee at the demonstration said the grandmother was permanently disabled from the attack and is living in long-term care at Laguna Honda Hospital.

“Every senior in every community needs to be protected,” said the friend, Josephine Zhao, who unsuccessfully ran for school board last year. “This is a time to say let’s stand up against random acts of violence.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents neighborhoods including Chinatown on the Board of Supervisors, called the latest robbery “absolutely horrific and shocking” in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner.

“There is no room for this anywhere in San Francisco, but Chinatown is a no fly zone,” Peskin said. “Anybody who thinks that they can do any violence in Chinatown is going to be apprehended, is going to be prosecuted and is going to do time.”

Peskin said the three men who were injured are in their 60s. The violence started when the group of suspects tried to steal a cellphone from a person at Portsmouth Square, according to Peskin.

When a crowd of seniors hanging out at the popular gathering spot tried to intervene, Peskin said the suspects started punching.

Police have not released detailed descriptions of the suspects. Two of the victims were taken to a local hospital and are expected to survive, while the third victim was treated and released at the scene, according to police.

“The good news is the police have authorized overtime for inspectors and I am confident that people are going to be arrested and apprehended and charged and tried,” Peskin said.

The suspects are believed to have pulled off another robbery several blocks away on Friday night, according to Peskin. The same dark-colored SUV was captured on video of a purse-snatching on the 700 block of Jackson Street.

No arrests have been announced in the case as of Monday afternoon.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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