OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A suspect was arraigned today in the case of an elderly Asian-American man murdered during his morning walk in Oakland.
The suspect is facing multiple felonies, but a hate-crime is not one of them.
KRON4’s Haaziq Madyun spoke with a criminal law professor about what is and, what is not, a hate crime.
The suspect arrested for the murder of a 75-year-old Asian-American man in Oakland has been charged with multiple serious felonies with special circumstances by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’malley.
However, he is not being charged with a hate crime.
“It is very difficult to prove motivation,” Gabriel Chin said. “Just because a person is a victim is in a protected category doesn’t automatically make it a hate crime”>
Chin is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law at U.C. Davis. He talks about possible reasons hate crimes are not charged in some criminal cases, even though the public assumes or believes racial bias was the motive for the crime.
“Of course sometimes terrible things happen to people of color or women that are unrelated to their protected characteristic. So one possibility is that there is insufficient evidence the crime was motivated by bias,” Chin said. “Another possibility is that if somebody is already being charged with a very serious crime, then it might be sort of unnecessary to add a hate crime enhancement.”
“Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated. It’s wrong,” President Joe Biden said. “It’s un-American and it must stop.”
Those words to the nation from President Biden were profoundly important, says the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Carl Chan.
“I think many of us were excited because finally, we have a president, President Biden, addressing to the nation and do talk about the attacks to the Asian community,” Chan said.
Chan believes the deadly nature of this recent incident resulting in a man being killed during a robbery while out on his morning walk, begs the question why hate crime charges are not being filed.
“I think with this incident we are hoping to make a clear or precise definition so we all understand what hate crime is all about,” Chan said.
KRON4 reached out to Oakland police to ask why there are no hate crime charges. They say they cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. The D.A.’s office said they will not comment on an active prosecution.