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Brooke Jenkins Frequently Visits Chinatown To Talk About Safety. But Critics Worry About Further Racial Strife
Sunday, August 07, 2022

Brooke Jenkins Frequently Visits Chinatown To Talk About Safety. But Critics Worry About Further Racial Strife

When Brooke Jenkins made her first official visit to Chinatown earlier in July, the newly appointed San Francisco District Attorney appeared like a celebrity.

Chinatown leaders and merchants warmly welcomed her, surrounding her for a chat and taking pictures with her. Out-of-town tourists wondered whether Jenkins was an actress.

But on Thursday night in Chinatown, the reception was markedly different. As Jenkins walked into a restaurant hall for a meet-and-greet with community members, a dozen angry protesters were waiting for her, chanting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

“We are protesting this woman because she was not elected,” said Maria Cristina Gutierrez. “She was put there by money.”

Gutierrez was one of the well-known “Frisco 5” hunger strikers against police brutality in San Francisco six years ago. And she came to Chinatown to make her message clear: Jenkins was put in office “by millions of dollars that were invested by the rich and powerful of the city that wanted Chesa Boudin to be out.”

In June, San Francisco voters recalled Boudin in a highly watched and contentious political battle, in which recall supporters spent over $7 million while opponents put up only $3 million. Mayor London Breed subsequently appointed Jenkins, who worked for Boudin until her high-profile resignation last October, later joining the recall campaign as a volunteer spokesperson.

Since Jenkins took office earlier this month, Chinatown has been her frequent stop. She was at the Craving Chinatown event and Ping Yuen block party a week ago, and this weekend she’ll attend a 500-people banquet to celebrate her appointment.

As a biracial, Black and Latina woman, Jenkins knows what the Asian community wants to hear from a new DA after two years of surging hate incidents and constant viral videos of violence.

Newly-appointed District Attorney Brooke Jenkins walks through Chinatown to meet with merchants in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

“You don’t have to be Asian to understand what you all are feeling right now,” Jenkins said in front of a cheering and supportive crowd. “I want to be the symbol of our unity.”

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She promised to crack down on racially motivated crimes, make public safety her office’s first priority and become the Asian community’s voice for justice.

But for Gutierrez, Jenkins’ tone on aggressive prosecution and a potentially close collaboration with police represent racial division instead. To her, such rhetoric pits the communities against one another.

“It is so sad,” Gutierrez said. “We are equally abused by the police.”

But concerns over anti-Asian hate nonetheless linger in the Asian community, and Jenkins’ approach to restore “law and order” will continue to resonate with many of its members.

“It’s important that our electeds genuinely listen to and understand the needs of the AAPI community,” said Charles Jung, executive director of the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association, who hosted the event Thursday night. “We need to build relationships and trust, so that we can work together to fight Asian hate.”

Han Li can be reached at [email protected].
  • Brooke Jenkins is the city’s DA now. Why are you giving equal weight to some weirdo? “Well-known hunger striker?” I read SF news every day and I’ve never heard of her.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t give a voice to some random weirdo. But not for a full “she-said she-said” with the new DA. They are not equal. Don’t act like they are.

  • Karen Fleshman organized this ‘counter protest.’ Karen is a white woman that was caught stealing a recall Chesa sign. She also claims to be an antiracist advocate, yet is yelling shame at a black woman? Karen is running for the board of education and is being endorsed by all of Chesa’s supporters. Please report this additional context.

  • Tell them to stop coming to Chinatown to make trouble. Chinatown already faces enough trauma and problems. They don’t want Asians to get help. Try doing it in some other communities if they dare. Jankins doesn’t only come to Chinatown.

  • I believe Jenkins genuinely invested in balancing reform and accountability. She seems the antidote to what many saw as progressivism gone wild under Boudin. She appears the perfect fit until the November elections. That doesn’t allow her much time to rebuild the DA’s office and win over an electorate as diverse as San Francisco’s. I believe sje well up to

  • I believe DA Jenkins is concerned about all San Franciscans. With her belief in balancing reform and accountability, she seems the logical antidote to what many believed was progressivism gone wild under Boudin. She only has until November to win over any nay sayers. With an electorate as diverse as San Francisco’s, there will always be detractors. Give her a chance.

  • These pro chesa radical progressives are pissed off, that they’re losing now. Their gig is up, ppl can see through them now & is tired of their B.S. that made a mess of this city! We will take back the City & stop making SF your hellhole playground!

    Enough is ENOUGH!

  • Wake Up Clowns.

    The CHEESE got chucked because his Main Priority was to “Uplift The Voices of the Criminals, Especially The VIOLENT CRIMINALS” .

    Now that we ( actually) have a REAL DA , who actually empathizes with a community that has been targeted for Hate Crime Violence because she , herself , has had brutal violence visited upon her own family.

    She’s always welcome in ANY District of San Francisco !

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