Thais, Thai-Americans and their allies will gather Saturday in front of the Thai consulate in Los Angeles to call for justice for Vicha Ratanapakdee, the 84-year-old man killed last week in an attack blamed on anti-Asian racism.
It’s the first public rally to be held since Vicha’s death in San Francisco became a flashpoint for the surge of violence against Asians amid pandemic-era xenophobia, spawning people to campaign for #JusticeforVicha virtually and on the ground.
The demonstration will take place at noon this Saturday (Pacific Time Zone) in front of the Royal Thai Consulate General, located on North Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“The demonstration is to show support and solidarity to Vicha’s family and to demand justice for Vicha,” said Jerry Raburn, co-chair of the Thai Americans for Biden, a Thai chapter of a broader group of politically progressive Asian Americans.
Asians in the United States have faced a rise of racist incidents since the pandemic began, and demagogues fanned the flames of intolerance. A U.N. report counted 1,800 encounters with racism experienced by Asian Americans an eight-week span alone last year. One day after Vicha died, another elderly Asian man survived a similar attack.
More attention to the issue is being drawn with hashtags like #AsiansareHuman and #AsianLivesMatter trending on social media this week.
At the end of his first week in office, U.S. President Joseph Biden signed an executive order to combat the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, calling it “unacceptable and it’s un-American.”
Raburn, who is of Thai descent, said they expect to see other Asian groups and their allies come together “as one community.” He said combating xenophobia requires better educating people that each culture contains value while those who carry out racially motivated attacks should be prosecuted.
“We cannot have hate crimes go unpunished,” Raburn told Coconuts Bangkok by phone this morning.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles artist Jonathan D. Chang drew a portrait of Vicha to honor him before the artwork that became widely used as a profile picture to call attention to racist violence.
After Vicha’s death, the Thai Consulate Office in Los Angeles issued a warning for Thais and Thai-Americans in San Francisco and nearby neighborhoods to “be on the alert for criminals.”
Vicha’s suspected attacker, 19-year-old Antoine Watson, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and elder abuse. A judge is expected to decide Monday whether to detain him pending trial.