Better communication is just one of the calls to action outlined in this letter from the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association, abbreviated APABA.
“Community members deserve to know that they are protected if they have been the victim of a crime that the prosecutor communicates properly with them by providing them with the appropriate resources,” said group executive director Charles Jung, who went on to say “No one is perfect, we don’t expect AD to be perfect but we expect it to communicate.”
The letter is co-signed and supported by eight local and national organizations, including SF Case, Stand With Asians, the Chinatown Safety Patrol, and the Southeast Asia Development Center. He cites the more than 9,000 hate incidents nationwide reported by Stop AAPI Hate from March 2020 to June 2021.
“It’s not so intensely on people’s minds anymore. But it should be.” Jung said.
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APABA was inspired to write the letter based on the handling of the Vicha Ratanapakdee case in particular, where an 84-year-old Thai grandfather was pushed to the ground and killed in January of this year.
“On behalf of the Vicha Ratanapakdee family, we ask the prosecutor to commit to timely communication with victims of hate and to provide language interpretation services and to identify what he and his office are doing to protect the community. API and to be transparent in the way it makes hate crime charges decisions.
Dion Lim from ABC7 emailed and called the DA’s office for comment and got this response from Sara Yousuf:
Our Acting Chief Victim Services Officer, Kasie Lee, is a former Cal-APABA board member and is happy to meet with the group and address the concerns raised in the letter. We just received the letter today and have already contacted the group and hope to meet them soon. The prosecutor’s office cares deeply about supporting victims and survivors, including expanding language access and victim support in the courts and in our Victim Services Division. Chief Kasie Lee has fought to increase access to languages for the AAPI community in the legal system throughout her career and continues this fight as she leads the division.
Last week, Boudin participated in a chat with the Contra Costa County District Attorney to listen to victims of violent crime. During this discussion, he touched on the need for better interpretation services.
“My goal before I step down is to make sure we have enough Victim Advocates to respond to every victim of every crime in the 48,000 and tell them what their rights are in a language they can understand.”
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However, for Monthanus Ratanapakdee, daughter of Vicha Ratanapakdee, she says her initial requests for a Thai interpreter were denied.
“I ask for a Thai interpreter at DA’s office, I was refused, I had to push back. They said they didn’t have one,” says Monthanus from the Anza Vista neighborhood where his father was killed. .
Illustrating the need for better communication with victims, the letter also referred to Boudin’s quote to the New York Times that Vicha’s assailant was having “some sort of tantrum”. It’s a quote Boudin later said was taken out of context, but a family in Vicha learned via Twitter.
“I remember my body was numb,” Monthanus said.
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Jung echoed the sentiment, “The family and others like them shouldn’t hear about the development of the case through the news.”
While Monthanus now has access to an interpreter for her family, she says she should request one first.
A career prosecutor Dion Lim spoke to weighed in and said the prosecutor’s office should provide interpretation services on behalf of the victim.
Monthanus speaks on behalf of not only his family, but also all of the victims whose lives are forever changed by AAPI crime and hatred. The suspect in his father’s case, Antoine Watson, will make his next court appearance on November 10.
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