On March 22, Mrs. Cheng was checking on her daughter who was late coming home on the bus. Standing on the Third and Oakdale Muni platform, she recalls being grabbed from behind, choked and thrown off the 5-foot-high metro stop and into the street.
The impact knocked her unconscious, shattered some of her teeth and left her lying in the path of a bus. The attacker was identified as a 15-year-old African American boy who was charged with robbery. But he threw her to the ground for no apparent reason.
Cheng was just one of the nearly 300 Asian Americans who showed up at City Hall to share story after story about being assaulted, robbed and intimidated. The two hours of testimony were tearful and angry. The need to share their stories was triggered by Cheng's experience; the January beating death of Huan Chen, 83, as he left a bus station at Third Street and Oakdale Avenue; and Tian Sheng Yu, who died after he was punched by an 18-year-old African American man in Oakland.
The stories highlighted what will be a difficult conversation. The speakers said they felt they were being targeted by African American teenage boys.
Bayview police station Capt. Greg Suhr says the police are responding, including adding 32 officers to his station to make Muni safer. But he thinks the racial issue is clouding perceptions.
"We are seeing large kids or kids in large numbers taking advantage of people of smaller stature," Suhr said. We have Hispanics in the neighborhood who are targeted fairly frequently."