An elderly Chinese woman in the US left her assailant injured and in need of hospitalization after he attacked her in the streets of San Francisco, local media reported on Thursday, amid an increase in attacks on the Asian American community since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic one year ago.
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Xiao Zhen Xie, 76, said she was waiting at a traffic light when the suspect punched her near her left eye and “her instincts kicked in to defend herself,” local KPIX news reported.
“She found a stick around the area and fought back,” the woman’s daughter Dong-Mei Li was quoted as saying.
She said her mother cannot see out of her left eye and she has not been able to eat since the attack.
San Francisco police are investigating the incident as “aggravated assault… and it was not clear whether the victim’s race had anything to do with the assault.”
In a video widely shared on social media, the attacker is seen bleeding and handcuffed to a stretcher while surrounded by police.
Just came upon an attack on an elderly Asian woman on Market Street San Francisco. Effort I got more details pic.twitter.com/5o8r0eeHE2— Dennis O'Donnell (@DennisKPIX) March 17, 2021
Earlier in the day, another elderly man in the area, aged 83, was also attacked by the same suspect and hospitalized, according to the report.
A few hours prior, police in the state of Georgia were seeking clues to what sparked the fatal shootings of eight people, six of them Asian women, in a string of Atlanta-area attacks.
The 21-year-old accused gunman, Robert Aaron Long, who is White, suggested to investigators that a sex addiction led him to carry out Tuesday’s violent rampage at three spas -- two of them in Atlanta and one in Cherokee County about 40 miles (64 kilometer) north of the state capitol, law enforcement officials said.
But authorities did not rule out the possibility that the attacks were motivated, at least in part, by anti-immigrant or anti-Asian sentiments, or some other grievance.
Regardless of the suspect’s motives, the killings put the issue of anti-Asian hate crimes at the center of national discourse.
A report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism this month showed that hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 major US cities rose by 149 percent from 2019 to 2020, a period when overall hate crimes dropped 7 percent.
Civil rights advocates have said the rise seemed related to Asians and Asian Americans being blamed for the pandemic, which originated in China. Former President Donald Trump called the novel coronavirus the “China virus,” the “China plague” and even the “kung flu.”