Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Yesterday I passed a big splashy #StopAAPIHate slogan graffitied across the side of a mall by some woke corporation trying to look edgy. Underneath the bleeding black letters, a chain of homeless encampments clotted the curb making it entirely impossible for anyone to pass by.
From inside a dirty tent that might once have been green came a stream of deranged profanity.
A significant portion of the attacks on Asian people, often elderly, that triggered the proliferation of #StopAAPIHate hashtags was generated by the mentally unstable drug addicts who populate streets like this with the benevolent permission of California’s Democrat overlords.
Those same politicians then hold press conferences which blame attacks on elderly Asians on Trump supporters and offer “solidarity” in place of law enforcement and police protection.
“San Francisco says anti-Asian and Pacific Islander hate crimes up 567% in early data,” media headlines declare. That’s a pretty big number, but it just means that they rose from 9 to 60.
Of those 60, 31 or 344% are being blamed in some reports on one man: Derik Barreto.
In one of the most San Francisco hate crimes imaginable, Barreto allegedly rode around on a scooter, using a slingshot to smash the windows of Asian businesses for five months.
At which point he was released again.
Barreto didn’t just smash the windows of Asian businesses, but of different types of businesses, and he also robbed some of the businesses he attacked, but apparently he told the police that he didn’t like Asian people.
Soros DA Chesa Boudin tried to impress an angry Asian community furious at him for enabling a crime wave by throwing the book at Barreto and hitting him with hate crime enhancements, but it was a very small book. And there were complaints that Barreto was still on the loose.
But then so is every criminal who hasn’t actually committed mass murder in broad daylight.
Records appear to show a man going by the name of Derik L. Barreto had been arrested in 2015 for “Assault w/Deadly Weapon Or Assault w/Force Likely To Produce GBI”, “Threats Of Violence”, and “Vandalism $5000 Or More”. Next year he was busted for driving with a suspended license. In 2020, there was another arrest for burglary and vandalism. In the summer of 2021, there were multiple arrests for burglary, vandalism, possession of burglar’s tools, carrying a concealed weapon and use of a deadly or dangerous weapon.
And the added hate crimes enhancements.
“We absolutely do not tolerate violence or hate in San Francisco. Chinese-owned businesses should be able to operate without fear of being racially targeted by vandalism, burglary, or harassment,” Chesa Boudin bragged in August. “We stand with San Francisco’s AAPI community against hate and will do everything in our power to make sure everyone is and feels safe.”
In December 2021, after all that, a Derik L. Barreto was once again charged with burglary and vandalism, suggesting that he had committed yet another similar crime after being set loose.
So much for Boudin’s promise of public safety for Asians targeted by racists. Or anyone else.
This crime spree took place in the Bay Area across the span of six years. The pattern of the alleged crimes is fairly consistent. So is the failure of the authorities to do anything about it.
There are, roughly speaking, two types of hate crimes. The stereotypical one, like a cross burning, is carried out specifically to terrorize or intimidate a minority group. It has no criminal motive beyond the bigotry it seeks to express. But the far more common form of hate crime experienced by Asians, Jews, and many others, including white people, is simply crime.
Assaults, muggings, and robberies committed for criminal motives by thugs who also happen to be bigots. These bigots, often members of minority groups, may single out targets from a particular race, religion or ethnicity, but their primary motive is criminal. They’re not engaging in hate crimes to express their hate, they’re expressing hate as part of their crime sprees.
Dealing with this far more common form of “hate crime” doesn’t require solidarity, hashtags, or even hate crime enhancements, just a functional justice system that locks up criminals.
Sadly San Francisco, like many American cities, doesn’t actually have one of those.
No race is listed in any of the media accounts of Barreto’s vandalism or in his arrest records. That alone is revealing. Had he been a white man, that would have been front and center. His name is Hispanic and the same appears to be true of his family members. But, understandably, “a Hispanic man was responsible for a 344% increase in anti-asian hate crimes” makes for an awkward headline for a political class still blaming Trump for their #StopAAPIHate hashtags.
The truth about hate crimes is that they haven’t really gone up, crime in general has gone up, and more crimes are being classified as hate crimes because the perpetrators shout racial slurs during muggings or because the police have been trained to ask the suspects in certain cases about their motives, and they happily describe their hatred for Asians, Jews, or anyone else.
To put the 567% increase in crimes against Asians into perspective, commercial burglaries in San Francisco shot up quickly last year by 62% going from 691 to 1,123.
The 31 or 344% increase focused on in this story is just a drop in this huge bucket.
Unfortunately most small business owners seem unable to get any action unless the robberies and burglaries can be directly connected to bigotry. And, even then, as this case shows, they can get public attention, but not actual justice or meaningful consequences for the criminals.
Crimes shouldn’t have to be classified as hate crimes to be taken seriously. Everyone, of whatever race, ethnicity, or creed, deserves equal protection under the law. And that means expecting the police and prosecutors to take action even where there’s no hashtag involved.
But it’s easier to splash a hashtag across a building or a press conference than to do that.
Woke institutions are incapable of seeing justice in any terms other than identity politics. And minority small business owners are discovering that the only way to counter the identity politics of the robbers is by presenting their own identity politics: pitting one victimhood against another.
What emerges from this process is more intersectional noise, not justice and public safety.
Our cities aren’t suffering from a hate crime problem, but a crime problem. Anyone willing to rob, loot, and mug won’t draw the line at shouting a racial slur. But it’s a symptom of identity politics dysfunction that robbery and assault are treated as victimless crimes, but slurs are shocking.
We need to stop fighting words and start fighting crime.