A man allegedly responsible for more than half of all anti-Asian hate crimes recorded in San Francisco last year is reportedly out of custody, raising safety concerns across local communities.
Derik Barreto, 37, is accused of targeting 20 Chinese-owned businesses and seven others in Chinatown, the Ingleside neighborhood and the Ocean Avenue corridor between April and August of 2021. He allegedly rode on a scooter and used a slingshot, pipe or hammer to destroy the stores’ windows, as seen in several surveillance videos.
Following his arrest, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office charged Barreto with a total of 33 crimes, as NextShark previously reported. Those included 27 felony counts of vandalism, four felony counts of second-degree burglary, one misdemeanor count of possession of burglary tools and one misdemeanor count of possession of a concealed weapon.
Of those charges, 31 had hate crime enhancements. Barreto allegedly made racially-charged statements to the police, who suggested that he targeted his victims, because they were Chinese.
This week, San Francisco city officials reported that anti-Asian hate crimes had increased by 567% from 2020 to 2021. Barreto’s 31 represented the majority of last year’s 60 reported hate crimes in total.
In September, a judge reportedly granted Barreto mental health diversion, and on Jan. 26 KPIX 5 reported that he is currently out of custody as he awaits a court appearance at the end of the month. His attorney, Pam Herzig, told KPIX 5 that he has pleaded not guilty.
It’s unclear when exactly Barreto was released.
“Someone please help me understand what mental illness causes a 37-year-old man to vandalize 27 Asian-owned businesses,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another commented, “This scumbag career criminal is not even in jail after being caught in the act of damaging properties.”
The news comes as community advocates have criticized the leniency of current criminal justice policies, including a 69-year-old Vietnamese American man who filed a federal lawsuit against the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for allegedly filing a plea deal with his assailant without his knowledge.
In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is prepared to use her powers to force Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to reverse his lenient approach to prosecutions. Concerns over Bragg’s policies emerged in the wake of Michelle Go’s death, whose attacker was found to have 10 prior arrests.
“I have options, but I will be monitoring the situation very closely,” Hochul told the New York Post on Wednesday. “I know full well the powers that the governor has — I’ll be having a conversation very shortly to convey, to let him tell me what his plans are and make sure that we’re all in alignment.”
Barreto will reportedly return to court on Monday, Jan. 31.
Featured Image via Gai Chicken Rice / Dion Lim
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