Hate Crime Against Black Woman Challenges San Francisco DA Boudin’s Image As a Progressive

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By JR Valrey

On June 27, 2018, 37 year old Brion Christopher Watkins, a white male, threw a pair of scissors and hit Nalasha Johns, a 24 year old Black woman at the time, and a passenger in another car, while in a fit of road rage, near the streets of Fell and Divisadero. The scissors sliced her face and caused her to get 13 stitches, in what many in San Francisco’s Black community has deemed as an un-prosecuted hate-crime.

After Brion Watkins was arrested at the scene, the next day he was released on his own recognizance. Since then, District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who is being mis-touted as a progressive by the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, has refused to prosecute or even give this hate crime any particular attention, after a year and a half has already slipped by. 

“It’s a deep wound, and it reiterates that selective prosecution is still running rampant in our communities of color. It’s disheartening that when we try to follow the policies and procedures that have been implemented, and when we cry out for justice from the justice system, it falls on deaf ears,” said Sheila Burton, a family advocate appointed by the Johns family. 

Nalasha Johns did not know Brion Watkins prior to this incident.

On July 22, 2018, across the Bay in Oakland, John Lee Cromwell, 29, a white male murdered 18 year old Nia Wilson, a Black woman, by slicing her throat with a knife, and attempted to murder her 26 year old sister Letifah, after slicing her neck also, at the MacArthur BART station. 

This brazen act of white male terrorism, led hundreds to the streets to protest against the police, for lack of attentiveness to white male terrorism, and KTVU television station, who painted the victim as a criminal, by showing a photo of Wilson on tv with a phone, that looked similar to a gun. In March of 2020, Cromwell was found guilty of murdering Nia Wilson and attempting to murder Letifah Wilson, although prosecutors refused to prosecute this as a hate-crime. 

And although Nalasha Johns was assaulted a month before Nia was murdered and Letifah Wilson was assaulted, Watkin’s trial has not started, and Brion Watkins is freely walking around San Francisco. 

“In regards to our D.A. (District Attorney Chesa Boudin) and his department, when I got involved in this case, it was definitely clear, and I read over all of the documentation regarding Ms. Johns case, it was clear that the communication between the D.A.’s office and Ms. Johns, the victim and her family, needed to be improved. There were a lot of questions that the victim and her family needed to be answered. And the current Assistant D.A. that was assigned, has not been able to help the family, in understanding the position that the D.A.’s office is taking in prosecuting Mr. Watkins,” said Sheila Burton.

“We reached out and requested a meeting with D.A. Chesa Boudin, and he has refused to meet with us. It’s apparent that there’s a formula to get justice, and that formula is a criminal act that has to get media attention, and that will equal, hopefully, some justice for these victims. 

When Boudin campaigned, he ‘was for the people’. Now that he is in office, and he is comfortable, we can’t even get an audience with the D.A..” 

In a creepy Cointelpro- like turn of events, Nalasha Johns had a petty theft charge in August of 2017. After the meeting with the Assistant DA, on November 12, a couple of days later, Johns was told by a cousin to come get her car. She went to get her car, and a park ranger was standing close by, and demanded to see her identification. Then arrested her for an outstanding warrant on a petty theft, from 3 years prior. Although she has been to court numerous times for the road rage/hate crime incident, it was only after she met with the assistant district attorney about the Watkins hate-crime assault, that this warrant appeared from 2017.

“It’s been almost 2 years and the justice system is letting me down. I was scared for my life and am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I just want that man to be in jail, because he could have killed me, and he has scarred me for life,” said Nalasha Johns. 

On December 10, at 9am, at 850 Bryant in San Francisco, Nalasha Johns and her supporters are due back in court, to call for Brion Watkins to be prosecuted for the hate-crime he committed against her. Please show your support for her in some way, because this will be a long fight. 


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