Ex-Gang Member Threatens To Kill Asians on Social Media, Arrested by Police

A former gang member from Berkeley, California, has reportedly been arrested over hate crimes after posting threatening messages about Asians online.

The Oakland Police Department said a Berkeley man was taken into custody after "social media partners" alerted them to "disturbing messages" directed at Asian communities online.

Reginald Jackson, who police flagged as a gang member in previous investigations, shared a series of now-deleted and private posts on Twitter and Instagram that included references to beating up, robbing and blowing up Asians, according to ABC 7.

Police records show that Jackson has a lengthy list of past felonies, including attempted robbery and weapons charges, including possession of an AR-15 assault rifle.

Jackson was booked into the Santa Rita Jail on Monday and is being held without bail until his next court hearing on March 23, the records show.

It comes as the Asian American community in the Bay Area and across the wider U.S. have increasingly become the target of hate crimes over the last year.

After being alerted to the posts on February 11, the OPD said it identified a suspect from their social media handle and issued arrest warrants.

Speaking in a video shared by the department on Facebook, acting captain James Beere said police arrested the suspect when he reported to an unrelated court hearing on Monday.

The suspect was booked into jail for criminal threats involving hate crimes, a probation violation and weapons charges.

Newsweek has contacted the OPD for confirmation that the suspect's identity is Jackson.

A Berkeley man is in police custody after he made alleged criminal threats on social media. Oakland Police Investigators received information from a...

He said: "The Oakland Police Department received information from our media partners regarding an individual who had posted disturbing remarks directed at members of our Asian community.

"We take those threats and all threats against all community members very seriously," he added.

Chief LeRonne Armstrong also said: "We are providing the facts of this case to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for their consideration in charging the individual for criminal threats involving hate crimes.

"The Oakland Police Department takes all hate crimes, hate speech and threats against any member of our diverse and inclusive community seriously. I ask you do stand with me as we unite against hate."

Hate crimes against Asian Americans on the rise

Asian American communities across the U.S. have increasingly been the target of attacks since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alvina Wong, Asian Pacific Environmental Network's campaign and organizing director, told Newsweek that former President Donald Trump's rhetoric about the origins of COVID-19 drove "the tension and desperation we're seeing in our neighborhoods right now."

Meanwhile, hate crimes surged nearly 20 percent during Trump's administration, according to a new FBI report on hate crime statistics. The report also shows that hate-motivated murders spiked to their highest number in 28 years.

The FBI's annual reports on hate crime statistics show that hate crimes increased from 6,121 incidents in 2016 to 7,314 in 2019, a 19.49 percent increase.

Hate-motivated murders spiked to a total of 51 in 2019, the highest number in nearly 3 decades, according to an analysis of the FBI's data conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSHE) at California State University. The next-highest number of hate-motivated murders occurred in 2018 with 24 murders. The third-highest number occurred in 1993 and 1995, with 20 murders happening each of those years.

Using these images OPD identified him as a man w/a lengthy rap sheet including multiple weapons charges.

During his court appearance in Dublin today heard the judge say he had “incredible concern.”

Thanks to all the tips— the man is now is custody. #StopTheAttacks pic.twitter.com/BjKNj2MBAh

— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) February 23, 2021

The 2019 tally of total hate crimes represents the highest level reported by the FBI in almost a decade. The second-highest annual total of hate crime incidents in the last decade occurred in 2010 with 7,699 incidents.

The California Bay Area has recently seen a string of attacks, including a spate of robberies and assaults against elderly members of the Asian American community.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf drew criticism when she blamed the violent incidences on defunding the police and budget cuts made to public safety, pointing a finger specifically at City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas.

Bas, whose district includes Chinatown and Little Saigon, was shocked and angered by the mayor's words. Although the communities that Bas serves have been hurt by slashes to the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the Filipina council member said she wasn't behind the action.

The recent cuts, which removed police officers from parts of the city, were actually made by Schaaf and City Administrator Ed Reiskin in December.

Wong added: "The mayor's office and the city administrator unilaterally made these cuts without consulting community, without consulting labor. They made the decision to pull the community resource officers from the whole city, not just Chinatown."

Schaaf's office did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment.