Recent Attacks Towards Asian-Americans

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By — Joey Hudson

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, attacks, hate crimes, and racism towards Asian-Americans increased throughout the United States. From March of 2020 to the end of 2020, it was reported that there were more than 2,800 cases of anti-Asian across 47 states and Washington D.C., many of the cases coming from high populated states with Asian-American communities such as New York and California. 

About 71% of the incidents were verbal harassment while 21% involved shunning. However, 9% of the cases involved violence towards Asian-Americans and 6% included being coughed or spat on, as given by the Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that addresses racism and discrimination towards Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout the United States. The increase in hate speech and attacks is believed to have been a result of COVID-19. 

Some Americans have been acting as though Asian people are to blame for the pandemic as the first case of the virus was found in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. Many argue that former President Donald Trump, as well as many other politicians, are also to blame for the spike of racism towards Asians due to them referring to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan Virus” or “Chinese Flu.”  However, over the course of these last few weeks, more and more attacks have started to emerge, many of the cases resulting in injuries or deaths of Asian-Americans. 

On January 28, 2021, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was doing his morning walk of the day. Ratanapakdee moved from Thailand to San Francisco 4 years ago to help his daughter and son-in-law in raising their 2 kids. He quickly became known throughout the neighborhood the family resided in, becoming known as “grandpa” to many neighbors. However, during his walk that morning, a man charged at Ratanapakdee and knocked him to the ground, the moment being captured on a surveillance camera. Ratanapakdee passed away 2 days after the attack in the hospital, his daughter, Monthanus Ratanapakdee telling ABC News, “He never wake up again. He [was] bleeding on his brain.” 

A 19-year-old suspect now identified as Antoine Watson has since been arrested in connection to Ratanapakdee’s death and is now facing charges of murder and elder abuse. Watson is currently pleading not guilty to both charges. Watson’s lawyer has released a statement stating that the suspect didn’t know Ratanapakdee’s race due to his face being fully covered. The lawyer also claims that the attack wasn’t racially motivated, but was due to a “a break in the mental health of a teenager.” 

Another similar attack happened in Oakland, California on January 31 after a 91-year-old Asian man was forcefully shoved from behind, thankfully surviving the attack. The same suspect is also believed to have been connected to  shoving 2 more people that same day. Oakland police have since arrested the man behind the attack, 28-year-old Yahya Muslim, who has been charged with assualt and battery and elder abuse and is currently in custody with a $85,000 bail. 

Noel Quintana, who’s 61, was on a train in Manhattan on a Wednesday morning when he was slashed across the face by another man on the train. After Quintana got off the train, a ticket booth attendant was able to call 911 and was taken to the hospital where he was treated.

Just recently, 47-year-old Patrick Mateo was arrested for assault and harassment after throwing 52-year-old Lee-Lee Chin-Yeung to the ground outside a bakery in Flushing, Queens. Chin-Yeung had to receive stitches to her forehead after hitting her head on the metal news rack next to her. Mateo wasn’t charged with a hate crime due to him not shouting slurs towards Chin-Yeung.

Another recent attack took place in Rosemead, California. Matthew Leung, a 51-year-old Asian-American who works as an elementary school teacher’s aide, was outside waiting for a bus on Sunday. At 1 p.m., a man on a bike came up to Leung, where the man greeted Leung. After 10 minutes, the same man attacked Leung unprovokly. During the attack, Leung tried to cover his face with his hands, eventually blacking out. Someone passing by found Leung on the ground bleeding and called for help. Leung was taken to the hospital, where Leung recalls to KABC, “So when I go to the hospital the doctors see it and say ‘oh no… they cut it (one of his fingers) off.’” There currently isn’t a suspect, but Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are looking into the assault and it’s still unknown whether race was a factor in the attack of Leung. 

As a result of these attacks, people and influencers all over social media have been advocating for Asian-Americans and making these stories known to their followers and the public. Many have also protested, one protest being held in Oakland, California a day after the attack of the 91-year-old man. Another protest took place in San Francisco, California, the same city where Vicha Ratanapakdee was killed. Many politicians have also voiced their concern about these attacks and have called for action to prevent potentially future attacks from happening.