Viral video shows elderly man attacked while collecting cans

A video posted on Twitter Sunday appears to show an elderly man collecting recyclables getting robbed and then assaulted in the Bayview.

Police said they became aware of the video Monday morning.

“We believe the incident took place in the Bayview Police District,” Officer Adam Lobsinger said in a statement. “The Bayview Station Investigations Team has initiated an investigation and is attempting to locate and identify the victim and/or witnesses.”

The video shows the older man stepping toward a trolley that carries several garbage bags full of recyclables. He is chased away by a man who pursues him while wielding a tool used to pick up waste.

Onlookers audible in the video can be heard mocking the victim. Several say the man who pursued him stole his possessions, and goad the victim into trying to retrieve them.

The victim again begins to approach the bags, prompting the suspect to break into a run and attempt to swing at him repeatedly with the trash-picker as onlookers shouted in the background. The video ends with the victim crying, and an onlooker — who previously assailed the man for appearing Asian — mocking him.

Posted on Twitter Sunday night, the clip had been retweeted 5,900 times and racked up around 350,000 views by the next afternoon.

Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents the Bayview neighborhood, denounced the attack in a statement Monday.

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

Noting that the older man spoke Cantonese in the video, Walton said he’s reached out to Chinese community leaders, whom he’s convened with before to discuss preventing violence from crimes and homicides as well as vehicle collisions. He added that community organizations in the Bayview, including the Community Youth Center, are trying to locate the victim to identify his needs and see what they can do to help.

“My focus is about bringing communities together, instead of trying to create a divide,” he said.

Mayor London Breed also condemned the attack in a similar statement on Twitter.

“The actions depicted in this video are shameful and are not reflective of the San Francisco we can, and should be,” Breed said. “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.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD 24-hour tip line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. Tips can be made anonymously.

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