Rise of Elderly Asian American Attacks Over the Country


Image by Javier Robles from Pixabay

Gloria Wang, Online Staff Writer

On January 28, an 84-year-old Thai man Vicha Ratanapakdee was shoved to the ground by 19-year-old Antoine Watson in San Francisco. This act was captured on video and was widely shared around the world across social media. Two days after the assault, Rantanapakdee died and Watson was charged with murder and elder abuse. 

Asian Americans have faced racist violence at a much higher rate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in part due to former President Donald Trump and other public figures referring to COVID-19 as “the China virus,” as well as names like the “Kung-flu.” Freshman Carol Zhang noted, “There were a lot of attacks back in 2020 on Asian Americans, so these attacks did not come as a surprise. 

Many other violent attacks on elderly Asian Americans have arisen in the past few weeks. A 64-year-old Vietnamese woman was assaulted and robbed in San Jose, CA. A 61-year-old Filipino man’s face was slashed with a box cutter on a New York City subway. A 91-year-old man was thrown to the ground in Oakland Chinatown. As junior Jason Ma stated, “Attacks on the Asian community, especially on the elderly, are despicable. Pointing fingers and assigning blame towards innocent groups of people is completely misguided and the last thing we need right now during a global pandemic. It is terrible that [the] Asian elderly are being hurt as a result of others’ hatred, misinformation, and flawed perspectives. ” 

The attacks left many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in fear and anger, horrified by the thought that their relatives could be violently attacked just by taking a walk outside like Ratanapakdee. Many racial justice activists and even celebrities including Gemma Chan, Paris Hilton, Daniel Dae Kim, and Daniel Wu demanded justice, sharing the video of Ratanapakdee’s attack. In response, President Joseph Biden signed an executive order on promoting racial equity across the nation. The purpose of this executive order is to combat violence and xenophobia against Asian Americans.

Last week, as the Lunar New Year approached, many Asian Americans were concerned about their safety. In Oakland, CA, Jacob Azevedo used social media to offer to walk with anyone in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood if they were concerned about their safety. Others quickly caught sight of his selfless act. Soon there were nearly 300 volunteers who reached out to the Asian American community offering help; this led Azevedo to establish a volunteer organization on Instagram, “Compassion in Oakland,” that promotes safety to all Asian Americans in their community. 

Fortunately, though the number of elderly Asian American attacks are rising over the last months, many are volunteering to offer their support and help in their communities; they understand as allies that no one is invisible or alone when encountering racism and hate.