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As Boudin Recall Vote Nears, Chinese Americans Battle it Out on WeChat
Thursday, June 30, 2022

As Boudin Recall Vote Nears, Chinese Americans Battle it Out on WeChat

By clicking on a green logo on their smartphones, millions of Chinese Americans get their daily news and friends’ messages from all around the globe.

But here in San Francisco, WeChat—the social media platform widely used in the Chinese-speaking world—has become a battleground for the information about Chesa Boudin, the district attorney who’s facing a recall election in a few days.

“Before, Chinese (American) people didn’t show too much interest in politics,” said Selena Chu, a school board recall activist-turned-DA recall proponent backing Boudin’s ouster through Proposition H. “Now we have WeChat, so we can have those discussions.”

As an information “super-spreader,” Chu has spent the past several weeks sending messages supporting the recall to dozens of group chats. And occasionally, she would get into arguments with Boudin backers.

“You are brainwashed,” one WeChat user wrote in Chinese to Chu. “Chesa Boudin is not my idol, but I think the recall camps are using fake information to mislead the voters.” The user declines to be interviewed for this story.

Joyce Lam, a Chinatown nonprofit activist and an immigrant from Hong Kong, also weighed in on WeChat to combat negative narratives on Boudin.

“I personally believe that Chesa Boudin should stay in office at this time,” she told The Standard. “But I also hope that the Chinese community can have a rational discussion, not just stirring up the fear and emotions in the community.”

Both sides of the recall have spent a significant amount of money on Chinese-language press to promote their agenda. But WeChat—once almost banned by former President Donald Trump—is now surfacing as a new tool to garner Chinese American votes.

One viral article that has been distributed on WeChat is called “Recall organization points out the ‘six sins’ of San Francisco DA.” It’s a paid post sponsored by the committee of “San Franciscans for Public Safety Supporting the Recall of Chesa Boudin” and published by a third-party news account.

The so-called “six sins” include “releasing” crime suspects, being “soft” on lawlessness, and the “chaotic” office management. The recall campaign confirmed they are running paid content on WeChat channels.

“We are doing deep organizing in the Asian American and Chinese community,” recall campaign chair Mary Jung said. “Since proposition H (the recall) is the last item on the ballot, we’re focused on educating as many voters as possible and through channels like WeChat that they are familiar with.”

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A simple search on WeChat using the keyword of “Chesa Boudin” or his Chinese name 博徹思, lots of the results are linked to the narratives of “lawlessness” and “crimes.” San Francisco’s crime rates since Boudin took office have been the biggest debate within the recall movement as the pandemic has caused various crimes to fluctuate. 

A San Francisco Chronicle report looked at the complex scenes of crime rates showing that violent crimes are at a historic low, but homicides are still up, while property crimes have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Facing a Chinese-speaking world full of negative impressions, the anti-recall activists are paying attention to WeChat, too.

According to the content provided by the anti-recall campaign, they have shared articles written by Boudin supporters like Henry Der, a prominent civil rights leader, and spread them to the WeChat group messages. Some of the headlines: “Let the facts speak: The crime data analysis in San Francisco” and “SFDA Chesa Boudin is fulfilling his promises to voters,” which cite his hiring of more multilingual staff and “charging more crimes.”

The goal of the outreach is to “create a conversation with users so it’s not soundbites”, anti-recall spokesperson Julie Edwards said, and that has brought “a tremendously positive response.”

Han Li can be reached at [email protected].
  • “Immigrant activist”. You can tell from the title this one is aping white values. “Activists” isn’t an Asian Value. Recall and reject Asians that support black on Asian violence. The narrative that white supermacist and republicans are driving a “wedge” between Asians and Blacks is as BS as can be. It isn’t racist to call out who is doing the killing. Its FACT. Some say it will be “open season” on Blacks if Chesa is recalled. I think it will be open season on CRIME if Chesa is recalled. Lots of Blacks are harmed by criminals as well. Just ask the parents of 6-year-old Jace Young.

  • I’ve never been so terrified of the results of a local election. SF is dying. Half the city wants to move away due to the failures of progressive marxism, er, liberalism. We have the worst downtown office vacancy rate of any major US city. We have more vagrants per sq mile than any place in America. Everyone who can get out is leaving. What happens to the quality of life, the property values, the personal safety of those of us who cannot or don’t want to leave?

    This is the most important SF election ever. These progressives will destroy the city rather then rein in their utopian delusions. They cannot admit that they are wrong – about how an economy works, about how much (wasteful) spending a city can afford, about how subsidizing vagrancy leads to … A LOT MORE VAGRANTS descending upon our tiny city, about how literally doing nothing about minor crimes (or not so minor ones – watching people walk out of Safeway with suitcases filled with stolen goods) inevitably leads to increasing violent and homicidal crimes … The Left never admits it doesn’t understand how societies function.

    We are in trouble – worse than I have ever seen in my nearly 60 years as a third generation SF citizen. Recalling Boudin will NOT solve the SF crime explosion (we must repeal CA Prop 47!!). But it is an excellent first step to cleaning up SF and making it livable again.

    YES on H!!!

  • Please vote NO on H. San Francisco needs a DA that will give criminals a free rein to commit crimes without fear of incarceration and the knowledge that if arrested all charges will be dropped.

  • Recallers,

    Can you articulate an argument that’s not “The city is a hellhole and the DA is solely responsible”? What specifically will your ideal DA do to turn the city (back?) into a paradise? Why do you think the mayor will choose a DA that will do those specific things? It’s easy to find faults without proposing real alternatives; easier still to make emotional pleas (they work on me as much as anyone else). I have yet to hear or see a vision of the future laid out, with specific reference to the things the DA can control, put forth by team recall.

  • @The Kid There aren’t any rational arguments to justify a recall. The only real argument is “we unexpectedly lost the election in a close vote to a hated poster child of progressiveness and got money from wealthy Conservatives to get a recall on the ballot and get a do-over. “

  • SF is dying because of ultra progressive Democrats such as Boudin. The city should introduce common sense measures such as incarcerating criminals and penalizing crimes such as open drug use and shoplifting. Basically, we need to introduce a more Republican style of governance to the city. Yes, I know, it’s a shocking concept to punish criminals but it’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way for public safety.

    VOTE YES ON H

  • SF is dying because of ultra progressive Democrats such as Boudin. The city should introduce common sense measures such as incarcerating criminals and penalizing crimes such as open drug use and shoplifting. Basically, we need to introduce a more Republican style of governance to the city. Yes, I know, it’s a shocking concept to punish criminals but it’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way for public safety.

    VOTE YES ON H

  • Looks like the “Super Spreader” Selena is my hero! Asian and Chinese Americans are under attack in the era of COVID and Chesa has not prosecuted with justice. Chesa even let the murderer of 19 yr old Kelvin Chew go by dropping all 11 of his charges. If you are not angry, you should be. Selena is a passionate advocate of our community. JOYCE Lam is a paid operator full time with CPA. So who is the sellout? #YesOnH #NoOnC.

  • Joyce Lam, paid to spread messages in WeChat groups and possibly the ex judge that also openly endorsed Chesa got benefits. They always used the tactics to bring fear that you won’t be able to choose and recall is not democratic. OMG! Recall is a part of the democratic process, and elected officials just like us will face the boot if under-performance. Joyce telling ppl you won’t get to pick who’s next. Uhmm, that’s a lie. The ppl will be able to vote again. A DA that works extremely hard to protect the criminals yo make sure they are out in no time to commit more crimes, left the people of San Francisco without proper protection. The ppl of SF is left with ourselves and our votes, to oust this criminal loving Chesa. Yes on H, GOTV! Here’s also another great article for a good read, https://beyondchron.org/chesa-boudins-desperate-campaign/

  • @ Beryl,

    Thanks for putting something on the table in the form of what you want to see in a the new DA if the recall is successful! I am not sure any new DA can arrest more criminals since that’s the job of the police and their boss, the Mayor. If the recall is succesfull, i would be interested in knowing how you feel about the new DA and their policies in relation to what you say want to see. I don’t think this mayor will appoint a republican nor someone who will want to lock up low level drug dealers, but you never know. Take care.

  • Yes on H, No On C! San Francisco must hold elected officials accountable, and Chesa had the entire signature gathering fee months to reverse his agenda; however, Chesa didn’t care until now he’s sending out his paid Chinese staff like Joyce to spread fear and divisive speeches among the Chinese speaking community. Chesa has never outreach to any Chinese speaking victims’ families in the past, victims like 19 years old Kelvin Chew murdered near home on a walk in early 2021, his death was silent and until today justice still not served. Now he sends his Chinese speaking staff to ask the SF Chinese community praise this lord, so he can keep his job? No thank you. I am voting YES ON H, NO ON C.

  • Those non-profit Asian Organizations get benefits to oppose Recall Chesa. They got a lot of money from Anti-Asian hate funding, but they never try to help Asian communities. Shameful!!
    Yes on H are all $0 paid volunteers.

    Pls everyone, vote Yes on H, No on C.

  • @TheKid, respectfully disagree. Chesa has done a terrible job of supporting the Asian American electorate. A realistic solution? Prosecute hate crimes for the defendants who are arrested, for a start, and do more to actually address the needs of voters who make up about a third of the City’s population.

    Here are some questions I think the AAPI community would like Chesa to answer truthfully and humbly:

    Ask him why Dwayne Grayson was not charged with a hate crime for beating an elderly Chinese man while calling him racial slurs.

    Ask him why his office intentionally abrogated Rong Xin Liao’s civil rights by denying him translation services.

    Ask him why a “temper tantrum” was an acceptable excuse to murder Vicha Ratanapakdee.

    Ask him why he will take questions from every reporter EXCEPT Dion Lim when she challenges white privilege.

    Ask him why his office sat for months on evidence showing Kit Lam’s civil rights had been violated by a white Progressive extremist.

    Ask him why both he skipped the 25 January Lunar New Year junket in which it was revealed hate crimes in the City targeting the AAPI community went up 500% under his tenure.

    Ask him why he has donors to the No On C campiaign who have also contributed money to Tom Cotton. It’s the height of hypocrisy.

    The truth is that Chesa is no less a racist than Stephen Miller, but one without the latter’s gumption to publicly own up to his vile beliefs. Chesa embodies the danger of the horseshoe theory, and is no less a shill for the very racists he claims to fight than was Trump. He has co-opted the language of social and restorative justice to disenfranchise and endanger the Asian American community, and his actions in the DA’s office belie his bias against any Asian Americans with who don’t serve his political ends.

  • Ironic these “Asian advocates” aren’t advocating for their community. They know where funding is coming from. Many Asian politicians are also complacent knowing not to rock their support.

  • @M “The Republicans, lol”. Read on Nextdoor, someone posting that S.F. has under 7% of all registered voters, as Republicans, lol. I just have to laugh at such ridiculous defense. It’s offensive really, unless you can’t do math. Of course public education has been watered down so much, not surprised folks can’t do math.

  • NO on C and YES on H! Recall Boudin!!!

    Met and spoke to Selena at previous events. Learned that she’s a volunteer who has spent a huge chunk of her time to advocate for the Asian communities, especially the voices of the Chinese elders. She has my utmost respect for it. Politicians don’t care about us. They only come to Chinatown when they need our votes. We are just pawns to them, even the Chinese politicians don’t fight for our rights. I don’t trust Joyce Lam, Mabel Teng, Janice Chan, Gordon Mar, Norman Yee or the worst of them all Sandra Lee Fewer.

    Look at the fentanyl death every day. Boudin cares more about the drug dealers getting deported than the victims. Look at how many cases he won since he became DA. He kept charging down felony cases to misdemeanor. He released criminals back on the street and look how that led to Troy McAllister to kill Hanako. I heard Jason Young and Emma Hunt’s parents spoke about their children getting murdered in cold blood. Boudin would not charge the perps as 1st degree murder. Instead he said it was self defense. How do you shoot a 5’ woman in the back as she’s running away and call that self defense. People who supports him should look at themselves in the mirror and see if they can clear their conscience. Think about the victims. Think of 6 year of Jace Young, Grandpa Vicha, and countless other Chinese elderlies. If you have a heart, loves SF, you must vote out Boudin. He lies through his gap teeth and he loves criminals. Wake up, people! Stand up for the victims and for justice. Vote YES on H.

  • TJ Lim,

    I am not sure I accept your characterization of the Grayson case (wasn’t he the one who filmed the assault and the victim asked for the charges to be dropped? The assailant was charged, as far as i know). The suspect in the Vicha murder is in custody charged with murder as far as i know. But no matter. I understand your point: the current DA is an asian hating white supremacist. I don’t see that as clearly as you do but I hope it is not true and, if the recall is successful, I hope the Mayor appoints a DA that you feel more comfortable with.

  • anybody who doesn’t believe the prorecall points, should simply spend a day in criminal court watching hearing after hearing of repeat felon after repeat felon have their felon charges dropped and let go. go see it for your own eyes and ears.

  • Please vote NO on H. Since Boudin has taken office, it’s now easier to buy recreational drugs than it is to buy a carton of milk at Safeway. Sellers of illegal drugs can provide their service uninterrupted and without fear of incarceration.

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