Officials in Oakland, California announced Monday that they were charging a suspect in connection with a series of violent attacks against elderly Asian Americans, one of which was caught on video.
In a press conference announcing the arrest on Monday, officials in Oakland said they would launch a new task force to investigate similar attacks in the future and warned that racist attacks would not be tolerated in the community.
“Today, we're sending a message to those that commit crime in this city that we will pursue you and we will arrest you and it's not acceptable for things like this to happen in our community," Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstron said.
The press conference in Oakland comes just over a week after three elderly Asian Americans — a 91-year-old man, a 60-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman — were all shoved to the ground on Jan. 31.
The incident involving the 91-year-old man was captured on video, and all three victims suffered injuries.
The suspect, identified by officials as Yahya Muslim, was arrested on unrelated charges on Feb. 1, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Monday.
"We are filing charges against a suspect identified as Yahya Muslim. We have charged him with three counts of assault that involve three separate victims," O'Malley said.
The announcement comes after two prominent Asian-American actors, Daniel Wu and Daniel Dae Kim, each pledged a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with the alleged assaults.
"Racist rhetoric from the pandemic have targeted us as being the reason for coronavirus. And so Asians across-the-board have been targeted, being pushed, attacked, spat on,” Wu said at the press conference Monday. “Outside of San Francisco, in Los Angeles and in New York, these incidents are happening all over the country."
Those three alleged assaults took place just three days after an 84-year-old Thai man was abruptly attacked in nearby San Francisco. Vicha Ratanapakdee later died of his injuries, and a 19-year-old suspect has been arrested and charged with murder and elder abuse.
CNN reports that O’Malley announced Monday that her office was creating a special task force that will focus on crimes committed against elderly Asian-Americans.
"The rapid increase in criminal acts targeted against members of the Asian community, particularly Chinese Americans, who live and work in Alameda County is intolerable," O’Malley said.
At Monday's White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that while she isn't sure if President Joe Biden has seen the videos of the alleged assaults, he's aware that racism against Asian-Americans is on the rise. Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office pledging to fight racism against Asian-Americans during his term.