A 40-year-old San Jose woman has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly attacking McDonald’s employees and calling them “stupid” and “f*cking Mexicans.”
According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the incident happened at 6:45am Saturday after two staffers asked Alena Jenkins to leave the Mountain View eatery because she refused repeated requests to don a face mask.
When the cashier finally asked her to leave the premises for violating the restaurant’s pandemic-safety protocols, prosecutors say Jenkins responded by saying, “F*cking Mexican! Go ahead and call the cops!”
When Mountain View police were called, as she requested, authorities say Jenkins shoved a plexiglass shield and sign at the cashier.
At that point, a McDonald’s manager intervened and echoed the employee’s demands that Jenkins leave. Jenkins, authorities say, then walked around the service counter, called the supervisor a “stupid Mexican” and swung a closed fist at his arm and shoulder.
Even after police arrived, Jenkins continued spewing racist comments about the McDonald’s workers, calling them “dumb Mexicans … who don’t know how to speak English,” according to prosecutors.
Jenkins is set to be arraigned today on misdemeanor counts of hate crime and battery.
“Targeting people because of their perceived ethnicity is not just a shame, it’s a crime,” DA Jeff Rosen said in a press release. “There is no excuse for hatred.”
A Broader Trend
The case against Jenkins comes just a couple weeks after the DA filed a hate crime charge against another San Jose resident—32-year-old Johan Strydom—for allegedly attacking an Asian-American woman on March 10 at the Diridon Station.
Reported hate incidents against Asian-Americans have dominated headlines for being on the rise since the start of the pandemic, but data show that such attacks on other minority groups have been trending upward as well.
According to FBI statistics, law enforcement-documented hate crimes rose to their highest level in a decade in the past couple years. The federal agency’s hate crimes report for 2019 showed that the uptick was slight—barely 3 percent—but that the crimes were more violent and deadly than the years prior.
According to the same FBI tally, 2019 marked the third consecutive year with more than 7,000 reported hate crimes—a level not seen since 2008.
In 2020, xenophobia against people of Asian descent skyrocketed, according to data collected by advocacy nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate, which documented 3,800 physical attacks, slurs, shunning and other apparently hate-inspired incidents in the span of the five first months of the pandemic. It marked an uptick of 800 incidents compared to those same five months in 2019, the organization found.
A disproportionate number of anti-Asian attacks have targeted women, a trend brought into stark relief when a white gunman killed eight people in a shooting rampage that targeted massage parlors largely staffed by Asian immigrants.
Six of the victims were Asian women.
The massacre sparked a national conversation about the tragic consequences of overlapping hatreds such as racism, misogyny and discrimination against sex workers.
In the South Bay, community leaders have held multiple rallies to denounce anti-Asian discrimination. Meanwhile, some local lawmakers have introduced proposals to address the uptick in reported hate-related incidents.
On Tuesday, Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee—a Chinese-American with family roots in Hong Kong—unveiled a plan to research anti-Asian incidents in the South Bay and to create a public education campaign to discourage such attacks.
The supervisor also called on law enforcement to invest more resources into protecting Asian-owned businesses and residents, who comprise some 800,000 of the county’s 2 million residents. Lee also proposed a series of town halls to give the local Asian community a chance to talk about hate incidents that may have gone unreported because of language barriers or fear of retaliation.
County staff plans to report back on those referrals, with recommendations about how fund them, at a Board of Supervisors session in May.