DALY CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A bill proposed by an East Bay Senator with the intent to revise the penal code is getting a lot of attention, as critics say it would essentially re-classify violent robberies to misdemeanor petty thefts. This has sparked outrage from members of the Asian American community, who are now speaking out, saying this is not their idea of justice.
New video out of Daly City, showing an older Asian woman brutally knocked to the ground and robbed Thursday afternoon is just the latest in a wave of attacks on Asian Americans across the Bay Area and country.
The concern now is over bill SB82 which, if passes, would reclassify certain robberies which do not involve a deadly weapon or great bodily harm as misdemeanors, not felonies. Misdemeanors carry a maximum $1,000 fine and one year behind bars.
Concerned citizens recently held a rally in Oakland's Chinatown in protest.
ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim reached out to Senator Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, who is championing the bill as part of a committee to revise penal code. She issued a statement to ABC7 several weeks ago saying the intent was so "non-violent cases of theft" wouldn't be charged as violent felonies.
Her spokesperson said she would not be available to go on camera, but referred to a video of her along with Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco at committee earlier this week. Weiner addressed the uptick in crimes targeting Asians but also mentioned his disapproval of how the bill was being received by the public.
"I've seen, unfortunately an incredible, a lot of inaccurate information about this bill. If you shove a senior to the ground that's assault, you can be charged as a felony."
The Asian American Prosecutors Association issued a statement voicing their concerns over the bill, "vehemently" opposing it. They cited a number of ABC7 News stories including one about three men attacking and robbing an older Asian man along the Nob Hill, Chinatown border in San Francisco. The group believes with the passing of SB82 this case would serve as a prime example of justice not being served since the older man seen on surveillance video did not suffer serious physical injuries and a deadly weapon was not used.
Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley, who has been a proponent of restorative justice for low-level crimes, weighed in and expressed her disapproval.
"It's a very big mistake in my opinion. It wouldn't qualify as great bodily injury and I don't think they (those in favor of the bill) understand that. That is a classic robbery where somebody is pushed to the ground and grabbed and tussled."
When asked about the laundromat case, Senator Skinner's office told me under SB82 elder abuse and assault would still be considered felonies. However, prosecutors say elder abuse and assault without a felony robbery significantly reduces jail time.
A hearing on the bill is set for next month.
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