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District Attorney charges man with hate crime in attack on Chinese nonprofit workers

A woman speaks at a podium, with a backdrop reading "#FIGHTASIANHATE", as an audience with phones captures the moment.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has filed a hate crime charge against a man accused of attacking Chinese victims. | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard

San Francisco prosecutors have decided that a recent violent, high-profile attack on Asian American victims was racially motivated.

Anell Medrano, 35, was arrested for assault on March 28 after allegedly throwing rocks and a bucket at victims near Van Ness Avenue and Vallejo Street. The District Attorney’s Office filed a hate crime enhancement, accusing Medrano of using anti-Chinese speech during the attack. 

The incident made waves in Chinese-language media because of the victims’ identities and connections to the nonprofit world. According to Skylink, a Chinese-language TV station that published video of the incident, three young Chinese men, all staffers from the nonprofit Self-Help for the Elderly, were doing community outreach work at the time of the attack.

A man is seen in a video recording physically and verbally assaulting two other men near Van Ness Avenue on March 28, 2024.  | Source: Courtesy video

Kifer Hu, one of the three victims and a director at Self-Help for the Elderly, told Skylink that the suspect also yelled “hate Chinese” during the attack.

In a phone interview, Hu told The Standard that Medrano went on a racist tirade against three of them while following them down Vallejo Street, saying, “Chinese are useless,” “Chinese are soft” and “Go back to your country.” 

Hu also provided the video showing Medrano saying, “You wanna see me grab your ass?” before violently grabbing a backpack on one of the victims' back. He also yelled, “I will fuck you up.” 

“Anti-Asian hate crimes are unacceptable, and these baseless attacks have absolutely no place on our streets in San Francisco,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement. “My office stays committed to prosecuting hate crimes against all races, religions, and groups when we have the evidence necessary to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Close-up of a person's face showing a closed eye, eyebrow, and forehead with visible scratches.
Marcus, a staffer from the Self-Help for the Elderly who declined to give his last name, was injured in the March 28 attack. | Source: Courtesy photo

Marcus, 26, one of the victims who was injured and declined to give his last name, showed The Standard that his face was injured from the attack. He said Medrano threw a white plastic bucket, hitting his head, and also struck his arm, making his work documents fall to the ground. He has recovered from the attack.

Medrano remains in custody, with bail set at $50,000. According to the District Attorney’s Office, they will seek pretrial detention in this case, citing a public safety risk.

The Public Defender’s Office confirmed that a staff attorney will represent Medrano.

“Mr. Medrano has denied these allegations, which we believe are based on a misunderstanding," Deputy Public Defender Everett Hewlett said in a statement. "This case has been overly charged, and the hate crime allegations are inappropriate.”

The next court hearing is scheduled for April 15.

Han Li can be reached at