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San Francisco Hate Crime Attack: Transient Allegedly Assaults Multi-Racial Family Near Farmer's Market

First Posted: 10/24/11 05:14 PM ET Updated: 12/21/11 05:12 AM ET

A 48-year-old transient is being held on hate crime charges for allegedly assaulting a multi-racial couple and injuring one of their small children.

The mixed-race husband and wife were pushing their two children, a 3-year-old and a 20-month-old, in a stroller down San Francisco's Market Street near the farmer's market in United Nations Plaza around 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 when Hosea Matavao reportedly yelled a racial epithet at the family, a spokesman for the district attorney said.

The woman asked Matavo to repeat what he had said, and he responded by hitting her in the face. The husband tried to protect his wife but was also punched in the face.

When the woman attempted to escape with her children, Matavo chased after her and kicked the stroller, causing a piece of it to hit the 3-year-old in the head.

A bystander tried to intervene but was also struck in the face several times. An employee of the farmer's market then alerted two security guards from the nearby Art Institute of California who subsequently subdued Matavo and took him into custody.

None of the injuries were life-threatening and everyone was treated at the scene without hospitalization.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

Matavao had four criminal convictions prior to his arrest Wednesday, [District Attorney spokesperson Omid] Talai said. He has been in state prison four times — for assault, robbery and twice for drug possession.

The robbery conviction earned Matavao his first strike under the "three strikes" law, which mandates more-severe sentences for repeat offenders, Talai said.

Matavo plead not guilty to three counts of assault, one count of endangering a child and one count of battery. Four of those five charges have hate crime allegations attached to them. He is currently being held on $500,000 bail.

The number of hate crimes in San Francisco has been on the rise in recent years — doubling between the years of 2009 and 2010 alone. As a consequence, local law enforcement officials have begun an investigation into a network of white supremacist groups operating in the city.

There was no indication that this attack was in any way associated with these groups.