LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An 84-year-old grandfather lost his life over what the family said marks another instance of rising hate crimes against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
Vichar Ratanapakdee, of San Francisco, stayed healthy throughout the pandemic, and recently received his COVID-19 vaccine.
As he does every morning, he went for a walk through the neighborhood, but this most recent time, Ratanapakdee was assaulted.
Ratanapakdee was attacked, causing bleeding in his brain, and he later died.
A 19-year-old suspect is charged with murder and elder abuse in the attack.
“This wasn’t driven by economics, that this, this was driven by hate,” said Ratanapakdee’s son-in-law Eric Lawson.
Ratanapakdee’s death is part of a surge in reported attacks against Asian Americans across California during the pandemic.
In Oakland, a man walked up behind a 91-year-old man and threw him to the ground — one of more than 20 similar assaults and robberies.
“It is so hard to see people being targeted in our community. This is not the kind of Orange County that we are working to build,” said Alison Edwards, the CEO of O.C. Human Relations Commission.
Julie Vue, who works as an activist against O.C. hate crimes, says her dad was beaten last month as he walked in his neighborhood park.
The suspect didn’t try to rob him, but her dad left with severe injuries. He’s now recovering at home after suffering a minor brain injury.
“He’s gonna have to be in fear of being attacked again. That’s what’s emotional for me, I’m gonna get another call saying hey Dad’s going to the ER again. I’d not want that to be a reality,” Vue said.
One incident — caught on cell phone video — made headlines across the state after a Northridge family hosting a birthday dinner at a restaurant for their grandmother when someone invoked President Donald Trump, who has incorrectly called the coronavirus the “China virus” and the “Kung flu.”
Such language and actions have lasting impacts on Asian American communities.
Professor Russell Jeung, who tracked hate incidents through Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate, because he said no government agency would.
“We needed to document the racism directed towards Asians because mainstream society doesn’t believe that we face racism and we need us to document what was happening and we needed to identify the trends.”
Since the pandemic began, Asian American hate incidents in California have risen by 115% in Los Angeles County, 150% in San Jose, and 200% in Orange County, studies show.
Activists urge people who see or experiences hate incidents to report them to local authorities.