Sunday will mark the one year anniversary of the killing of Thai grandfather in San Francisco. Vicha Ratanapakdee had become another Asian victim of violence in America.
Vicha Ratanapakdee’s daughter Monthanus Ratanapakdee will be joined by hundreds of people in five other U.S. cities, all of them seeking justice for Asian Americans who have been harassed, assaulted, and even killed in alarming numbers since the start of the pandemic.
“I really want my father’s death to not be in vain,” said Ratanapakdee, 49, a food safety inspector with the San Francisco Unified School District. “I wouldn’t want anyone to feel this pain.”
Asians in America have long been subject to prejudice and discrimination, but the attacks escalated sharply after the coronavirus first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. More than 10,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were reported to the Stop AAPI Hate coalition from March 2020 through September 2021. The incidents involved shunning, racist taunting and physical assaults.
In San Francisco and elsewhere, news reports showed video and photos of older Asian people robbed and knocked down, bruised and stabbed on public streets. Preliminary data shows that reported hate crimes against Asian Americans in San Francisco surged from 9 victims in 2020 to 60 in 2021.
But there are numerous unreported cases and “What we really want is to encourage Asian Americans to tell their stories and finally break the silence,” says Charles Jung, a Los Angeles employment attorney and executive director of the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
One thing the killings of Asian Americans has done is, it has made them realize they are part of something bigger.
– Meriqua Whyte