San Francisco – Vichha Ratanpakadi was impatient for his regular morning walk, due to being dumped inside during the epidemic. He washed his face, put on a baseball cap and face mask and told his wife that she would have that coffee when she returned. Then, on a brisk and misty northern morning of winter morning last month, he stepped outside.
About an hour later, Mr. Vicha, an 84-year-old retired auditor from Thailand, was violently slammed to the ground by a man who charged at him with full speed. It was a kind of forceful body attack that knocked a young football player into a full safety pad. For Mr. Vicha, who stood 5 feet 6 inches and weighed 113 pounds, the attack was fatal. He died of brain hemorrhage two days later in a San Francisco hospital.
Captured the security camera of the neighbor, Video of attack The world was watched with terror. Among Asian-Americans, many of whom are The cold-blooded racist taunt And worse during the coronovirus epidemic, the killing of a defenseless aged was a rally cry.
Last year, Researchers And Activist group Has prolonged thousands of racist incidents against Asian-Americans, increasing hatred that they link Former President Donald J. Trump repeatedly mentioned coronovirus As the “Chinese virus”. Mr. Wicha’s family described his killing as racially motivated, and it led to a campaign to raise awareness by several prominent Asian-Americans who used the online hashtags #JusticeForVicha and #StopAsianHate.
One New York actor, Lex Hamm, said, “Wicha’s murder was so plain as day, that he flew from New York to San Francisco to help with protests and security patrols in Asian areas.” There was no way to ignore the violence happening to the people. “
Two days after the attack, 19-year-old Antony Watson, a resident of the neighboring Daly City, was arrested and charged with murder and gross abuse. He has pleaded not guilty, but his lawyer admitted that his client was “outraged”.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin says Mr. Vicha’s death was heinous. But he says there is no evidence to suggest that it was motivated by racial animosity.
Nevertheless, at a time when demands for racial justice have shaken a demographically developed nation, Mr. Wicha’s murder was notable for the angry anger that brought a group that was Chinese, Japanese, Korean , Includes South Asians and Southeast Asians. Heritage. The murder of a Thai man in the US has given a voice to a united community under the umbrella of an Asian-American identity.
In the weeks following this, Mr. Wicha’s death has become a symbol for the sign that many in the Asian-American community feel in the moment.
For his family, the death has been devastating in California and abroad. In Thailand, the murder was described as front-page news and described as barbaric, shortening life span in a family where siblings usually live to their late 90s, relatives say .
After his retirement in 1996 from Kasikornbank, one of Thailand’s largest financial institutions, Mr. Wicha traveled between San Francisco, where his eldest daughter lives, and Thailand, where his youngest child lives.
For months, Mr. Vicha had been prepared to return to Thailand, but was unable to because of the epidemic. He disliked the chilly and wet San Francisco winters and remembered his favorite southern Thai dishes and his extended family and friends.
His brother, Surachai Ratanpakadi, 89, now the only surviving brother of eight children, recalled Mr. Vicha as studious and curious about the world outside the rice trees, watermelon fields and family farm gardens.
“Suchcha was one of the few people in the village who spoke English well,” Mr. Surachai said.
Mr. Visht went to study at Thammasat University, Bangkok, one of the most prestigious institutions in the country.
His elder daughter, Monthanus, described his father as a devoted Buddhist. She wonders why on the morning of the attack she left her Buddhist talisman in the talisman without protection, which she always wore around her neck.
When Ms. Montanes expressed her desire to go to graduate school two decades ago, Mr. Wicha supported her decision to enroll in business school at the University of California, Berkeley. After her graduation, when Ms. Montanus married and decided to live in San Francisco, Mr. Vicha and his wife came to help raise their grandchildren.
At the time of the attack, Mr. Wicha was only a few months away from being able to return to Thailand. On 15 January, he received his first shot of the modern vaccine.
“We said, ‘Dad, we’re gonna go back soon!”
Mr Wicha’s second shot was scheduled for 12 February, an appointment he did not want to make.
He was killed at a time when other disturbing images and reports were surfacing from San Francisco Bay. Three days later an attacker dropped a 91-year-old man to the ground in Chinatown, Oakland, Another video that has rocked the internet.
That old victim is incorrectly described as Asian in several news accounts. In court documents, the victim’s name was Gilbert Diaz and Carl Chan, community leaders and president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said the victim was Latino. But Mr. Chan says he has conducted more than two dozen attacks against Asian-American victims in Chinatown, including two others who stabbed Mr. Diaz, the attacker.
Crime data from district attorney offices in San Francisco County and Alameda County, which includes Oakland, suggest that people of Asian descent were less likely to be victims of crimes than other ethnic groups last year. In San Francisco, where 36 percent of the population is of Asian descent, 16 percent of crime victims of known ethnicity were Asian, a situation similar to Alameda County.
But Bay Area Asian community leaders say the crime figures are misleading because Asian-American residents, especially immigrants, often do not report attacks or robberies that occur outside the system or language barrier. Leaders of the nationwide, Asian-American community say that it is inconsistent, that the epidemic has created a sense of fear and insecurity. New York For California. Last week in California Legislature $ 1.4 million approved In funding to track and research racist incidents against Asian-Americans.
“Our seniors are afraid to walk on their own roads,” Mr. Chan said.
Last year, Ms. Monthanus, Mr. Vicha’s daughter, was accused twice on the road by people who asked her to leave the country because, as the attackers said, Asians were the cause of coronovirus.
A public defender, Mr. Watson’s lawyer, Sleeman Nawabi, said his client would not be able to identify Mr. Wicha’s ethnicity through his face mask, hat and winter clothes. Mr. Nawabi described Mr. Watson as someone who struggled with anger.
In the hours before the attack, Mr. Watson had multiple failures. She left her home due to a family dispute and fell into a traffic accident in San Francisco at 2 a.m. She was cited by San Francisco police for running a stop sign and careless driving and then fell asleep in her car that night.
Mr. Watson was caught by several security cameras in the area that morning beating his car with a hand, according to District Attorney Mr. Bowdin.
“It appears that the defendant was in some kind of temper tantra-mantra,” Mr. Boudin said.
This was when Mr. Wicha walked up to Anzavista Avenue, a street with a view of skyscrapers in the city’s financial district.
A witness told police officers that Mr. Watson asked “what are you looking at?” A security camera located inside a neighbor’s apartment caught Mr. Watson charging toward Mr. Wicha on the sidewalk, which surrounded his attacker before impact.
Two days after the attack, Ms. Montanes and her mother went to the place where Mr. Vicha had died and noticed that there was still a pavement in his blood. He cleaned the pavement with brush and wondered why no one from the city had come to do so.
The funeral of Shri Vigraha has been performed in two urns. Ms. Monthanus says that she and her family will board a ferry under the Golden Gate Bridge and scatter some into the Pacific Ocean.
“I want her to be close to me,” he said. “When we go to the beach we can dream that she is with us.”
She plans to bring back the other urn to her father’s hometown in southern Thailand, where the local Buddhist temple has a stupa that holds the remains of the family. “They have brothers and sisters,” Ms. Montanus said. “They will all be together.”
Ms Monthanus said the amulet is a valuable family legacy, which will be passed on to the next generation.
“He always told me that if something happened to him, he would have to go to the grandson,” she said.
Poyapiti amatatham Contributed to reporting from Bangkok.