CAPAC Members Mourn the Loss of Vicha Ratanapakdee and Condemn Continuing Spike in Violence Against Asian Americans
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes, harassment, and racism against Asian Americans have increased drastically, with over 3,000 cases of anti-Asian discrimination reported through 2020. Recently, there has been a new spike in anti-Asian hate incidents targeting elderly Asian Americans, including the murder of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who was attacked while walking in San Francisco and later died from his injuries. There have also been several attacks targeting Asian American seniors in Oakland's Chinatown, as well as a knife attack on a 61-year-old Filipino man in New York City, who was slashed across the face on the subway. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), who have repeatedly urged former President Trump and other elected officials to avoid stoking xenophobia against Asian Americans, issued the following statements to condemn the recent string of attacks against the Asian American community:
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01):
"I am heartbroken and infuriated by the violent attacks on members of our AAPI community and vandalism against AAPI-owned businesses. Racist propaganda from Donald Trump and his followers has fueled and legitimized these attacks. They must stop immediately. I join my colleagues and President Biden in condemning anti-AAPI bias, hate speech, and hate crimes in the strongest possible terms."
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
"My heart breaks for the family of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who was killed in an unprovoked attack while simply walking around his neighborhood in California. This horrific murder is something that should never have happened, but it is sadly just one of several recent attacks targeting vulnerable Asian American elders. The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus condemns these attacks and is working closely with the Biden administration to address continued violence targeting the Asian American community, which has been terrorized by prejudice throughout the pandemic. Especially in the days leading up to Lunar New Year, a time of cultural pride and celebration for millions of Asian Americans, the increase in attacks in Chinatowns in particular has had a chilling effect on our community.
"The recent spike in this violence is also a reminder that the insurrection on January 6th is not the only violence incited by Donald Trump. Starting a year ago, in February 2020, CAPAC warned that racial slurs like "China virus' and "Kung flu' threatened to create more fear and anger directed at Asian Americans. We were joined in that warning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization who similarly warned against xenophobic rhetoric that would promote stigma and hinder our response to COVID-19. But despite warnings from his own government, including from the FBI, Donald Trump and Republican leaders insisted on using xenophobia to deflect blame from their own flawed response to the crisis. Although Trump is no longer in office, the anti-Asian racism he incited lingers. Fortunately, we have a new President, Joe Biden, who chooses not to peddle in bigotry and fear, and who took executive actions within his first week in office to condemn and combat racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans. But the tragic truth is that the damage has already been done and the effects are seen in each new violent attack on innocent Asian Americans across the nation. We need all federal, state, and local leaders from both political parties to loudly and decisively reject xenophobic rhetoric and work together to unequivocally condemn and address the alarming uptick in violence targeting the Asian American community."
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:
"I am enraged, disgusted, and heartbroken by the brutal attacks against Asian Americans, especially the elderly. The spike in incidents is gravely concerning. Last year, the House of Representatives passed my resolution condemning anti-Asian sentiment related to the virus, and President Biden affirmed as much in a presidential memorandum that included several of my bills--but more must be done. Those who commit heinous crimes against Asian Americans that result in injury--or worse, death--must be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. I demand justice for Vicha. What happened to him, and what is happening to our Asian American elderly across the country, is horrifying. Such violence must immediately stop."
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:
"The uptick in hate crimes against the AAPI community, especially our Asian American elders, is a horrific, shameful display of the racism that continues to plague our country. COVID-19 has led to the misunderstanding of the AAPI community and increased discrimination against AAPIs to the point where Asian Americans are being harassed and assaulted for simply walking down the street. This is unacceptable and it cannot be ignored -- I commend the activists bringing attention to this issue and amplifying the stories of those who have been targets of hate. Our response to the pandemic must include a plan to combat this violence, protect the AAPI community, and prevent these crimes from ever happening again -- to anyone. We will not tolerate hate and we will continue to speak out against and condemn racist rhetoric from political leaders that contributed to this problem."
Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes, harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans have skyrocketed. Sadly, racially motivated attacks against Asian American seniors, including one that resulted in the murder of 84-year-old Thai-American Vicha Ratanapakdee, have also been on the rise. While I'm encouraged to see the Biden Administration take steps to address racism and hate against the AAPI community, we must do more to ensure what happened to Mr. Ratanapakdee doesn't happen again. If you or someone you know experiences an anti-Asian attack, please report it to stopaapihate.org. We must stand up together against racism and bigotry."
Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL):
"We know that COVID-19 strikes without regard to the color of a person's skin or the language they speak. The skyrocketing hate crimes against Asian Americans is senseless and should outrage us all. Now that we once again have a president who leads by example and takes action against racism, we must raise our voices even louder and redouble our efforts to reverse this growing trend and end these hate crimes against Asian Americans once and for all."
Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07):
"I strongly denounce the skyrocketing number of hate crimes directed towards Asian Americans, fueled by racist, xenophobic, and COVID related anti-Asian rhetoric. As families prepare to celebrate the Lunar New Year, it is critical that we speak up against these hate crimes and stand with our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. With the support of the new Biden Administration, we must expand the national discussion on race relations to include and address racism and hate crimes directed at Asian American communities throughout the country."
Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03):
"These attacks are unacceptable and must be condemned fully and emphatically. It is important to realize that they are also the continuance of generations of attacks against Asian Americans in our country. It's a sad and tragic legacy that we must face as a nation, and we must come together to address as one people."
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):
"Violent rhetoric during the COVID-19 pandemic has inflamed xenophobia, putting the lives and livelihoods of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at risk, even loss of life. The last administration's racist and unfounded statements have stoked bullying, harassment, and violence against the AAPI community. I join my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in condemning acts of hate and violent crime targeting the AAPI community. We must take immediate action to prevent further harm and hold anyone targeting this community accountable."
Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10):
"Since the pandemic began, Trump and other Republicans have unfairly scapegoated the entire Asian community for this virus with their reckless rhetoric. I'm disgusted by the drastic rise in anti-AAPI hate crimes, violence, and discrimination this has caused, especially the vicious attacks committed against our elders. When we see dangerous rhetoric like this, we have to point it out immediately, raise awareness of the harm caused, and unequivocally condemn it. This just doesn't reflect our values. I am committed to working with my CAPAC and Tri-Caucus colleagues to raise awareness, address, and put a stop to hate crimes and hatred in all forms."
Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18):
"There is a dramatic increase of reported violence and bigotry toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the pandemic. Racism of any kind is unacceptable and it's why we must all do our part to stop hate and xenophobia and the federal government must prioritize efforts to root out these criminals."
Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01):
"As we address the global pandemic, it's important that all of our communities feel safe and secure. The spike in anti-Asian hate crimes is unacceptable and does not belong anywhere in our country. Hate crimes fueled by xenophobic and racist rhetoric, have put Asian American and Pacific Islander families and businesses at risk. I'm thankful that one of President Biden's first executive actions was to issue guidance to the Department of Justice on responding to these hate crimes. I will do all I can to help curb this spike and ensure a just and more equitable future for everyone."
Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04):
"Throughout this pandemic, we have seen a terrible rise in hate crimes against members of the Asian-American Pacific Islander community, driven by xenophobia and misinformation. Discrimination of any form is unacceptable, and I join my CAPAC colleagues to stand up and speak out against these harrowing attacks."
Congresswoman Susie Lee (NV-03):
"Ignorant, misguided ideas about COVID-19 and Asian Americans are more than just empty words. They have devastating consequences for AAPI families, children, small businesses, and communities. This recent uptick in hate crimes against Asian American communities needs to end, and it starts with us all doing our part to create a more inclusive society. Pandemic or no pandemic, I will always fight for southern Nevada's AAPI communities and stick up for my constituents when bigotry seeps into their lives. This crisis is not a moment for hatred and division, but unity--as Nevadans, Americans, and human beings."
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12):
"The spike in AAPI hate crimes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is the manifestation of months of anti-Asian rhetoric from Trump, his White House, and his allies. Incidents like these are why we must always call out bigotry and hate - wherever and whenever we see it."
Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45):
"I am deeply disturbed by the massive rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, including in Orange County, since the start of this pandemic. Hate and bigotry have no place in our country, and we must all denounce racism, combat disinformation, and pursue justice in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Every American should be able to live free from harassment and violence."
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12):
"The appalling rise in hate crimes against Asian members of our community is both a call to action to renew the fight against racism in our country and a reminder of the danger of reckless innuendos surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic. I proudly represent thousands of Asian Americans in Congress and stand with them against these shameful displays of intolerance and hate."