Vicha Ratanapakdee: San Francisco renames street for victim of fatal anti-Asian hate attack

Vicha Ratanapakdee: San Francisco renames street for victim of fatal anti-Asian hate attack

San Francisco has renamed a street for Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai immigrant whose death in an unprovoked attack in 2021 brought attention to anti-Asian hate.

City officials unveiled the new change at the weekend, changing Sonora Lane to Vicha Ratanapakdee Lane.

“It is my hope, our hope that the Vicha Ratanapakdee Way reminds future generations that violence against our Asian community, especially the elders, has no more place in our society,” Ratanapakdee’s daughter Monthanus told CNN. “We want everyone to come together, gather together and inspire leaders to stop Asian hate.”

In January of 2021, a man ran across the street in the Anza Vista neighbourhood and brutally shoved Ratanapakdee to the ground. The 84-year-old, who had immigrated to the US years before to help care for his grandsons, never regained consciousness after the attack.

A 19-year-old has been charged with murder and elder abuse for the attack, and has pleaded not guilty. Family members and activists criticised San Francisco officials like former District Attorney Chesa Boudin for not prosecuting the attack as a hate crime, and for the more than a year between the violent confrontation and court proceedings.

According to research from Pew, a majority of Asian-Americans in the US feel violence against them is getting worse, with more than a third changing their daily routine to avoid potential threats.

Attacks against AAPI Americans were up 339 per cent last year compared with 2020, according to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, part of an overall 11 per cent increase in suspected hate crimes across the country.

Those targeted varied from city to city, with Black Americans still the most targeted group in most cities, while in places like New York, Jewish people reported the most incidents, and in Chicago crimes against gay men topped the list of suspected hate incidents.

John C Yang, president of civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said at the time the data underscored the need for solidarity across different groups in the US to root out identity-based hatred.

“We must bring attention to the hate that impacts all communities,” he told NBC News. “The support of our allies representing diverse communities of color and diverse faith communities has meant a great deal as our Asian American communities have been under attack. All of our diverse communities, including LGBTQ+ communities, have experienced hate, and there is a profound but tragic solidarity in that.”