The family of a Thai senior citizen who died after being violently knocked to the ground in San Francisco is seeking justice and blaming anti-Asian racism for his death.
Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was on a Thursday morning walk in the city’s Anza Vista neighborhood when a young man charged and barreled into him at full speed. Racism is suspected in the unprovoked attack, which sent Vicha sprawling hard to the ground and evidently hitting his head against a closed garage door.
HORRIFYING: 84-year old man was assaulted at Anzavista & Fortuna Thurs & passed away yesterday. Nearby homeowner says she is scared to death.
Antoine Watson arrested assault w/deadly weapon & elder abuse. Maylasia Goo also arrested.
Call SFPD 575-4444 if you have more info. pic.twitter.com/4qKrMcAoaw
— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) February 1, 2021
Vicha was later rushed to a hospital, where he died two days later on Saturday.
Antoine Watson, 19, was arrested later that day and charged with murder, elder abuse and assault. His associate, 20-year-old Malaysia Goo, was also arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to the attack after she was spotted fleeing the scene with Watson in CCTV footage of the attack.
The attack has drawn significant attention in San Francisco’s Asian-American community as an example of the hate-fueled violence which has surged since the pandemic began last year, fanned by those pinning blame on China.
Vicha’s family believes the attack was motivated by hate. Eric Lawson, Vicha’s son-in-law, wrote in a crowdfund appeal for Vicha’s memorial and funeral that it was “COVID-19 fueled anti-Asian racism.”
“Our family has endured multiple verbal Anti-Asian attacks since the beginning of the pandemic, this time it was fatal,” he wrote. “Racism has once again proven deadly. Anti-Asian racism has become a very serious danger to all Asian Americans, particularly in San Francisco. It’s time the authorities took serious action to combat it.”
Vicha, who spelled his name Vichar on social media, reportedly relocated from Thailand to San Francisco to help care for his grandchildren. According to the Facebook page believed to be his, he was originally from Songkhla. Nearly all of the photos posted there are of a smiling Vicha with two young boys.
The platform, which has raised over USD$4,900 since last night, also calls for justice as it claims the suspects were later released.
“Now that Mr.Vicha Ratanapakdee has died of his injuries, prosecution for this murderous hate crime is the only path to justice and community safety,” Lawson added.
Ed. note: This story originally spelled the man’s name as Vichar as that was the spelling he used on his social media. It also cited media reports that Lawson was his step-son; in fact, he was his son-in-law.
— Evan Sernoffsky (@EvanSernoffsky) February 1, 2021