San Francisco Street To Be Named After Thai Man Whose Death Spurred Movement to End AAPI Hate

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A San Francisco street will be dedicated on Saturday in honor of an 84-year-old Thai grandfather who was killed in a vicious attack that inspired Asian Americans who were already grieving from a spike in physical and verbal assaults during the pandemic.

A neighborhood’s “Vicha Ratanapakdee Way” will be commemorated at an afternoon event that is anticipated to draw hundreds of attendees. Monthanus Ratanapakdee, Ratanapakdee’s daughter, and actor Daniel Dae Kim will both speak.

Authorities claim that in January 2021, while on Vicha Ratanapakdee’s routine morning stroll, Antoine Watson, who was 19 at the time, charged at him and struck him on the ground. Two days later, Ratanapakdee passed away without ever regaining consciousness. The act that caused Ratanapakdee’s death was one of many attacks on Asian Americans that have been documented across the country recently and during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The assault, which was caught on security footage, outraged the people, inspired artists to create murals and pictures of Ratanapakdee, and gave activists a reason to organize around. His passing has come to represent the nationwide effort to eradicate prejudice against Asian Americans.

Prejudice against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) has been for a while, but it became more severe after the coronavirus first surfaced in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. Many others, including Mark Young with the organization Stand For Asians, continue to fight for justice and to acknowledge the horrifying crimes that Asian American communities continue to experience.

Russell Jeung, a professor at San Francisco State University, created the self-reporting website Stop AAPI Hate to keep track of prejudice directed at Asian Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders. Jeung claims that as more people begin to speak up and tell their tales, policies are beginning to alter.

Jeung stated that reporting strengthens the voice of Asian Americans and forces decision-makers to act. A number of states across the US now mandate Asian American studies and in California, two measures addressing street harassment have just been passed. Additionally a $166 million API equality budget bill has been approved in California to combat bigotry.

A street between Terra Vista Avenue and Encanto will receive a new name on Saturday with the assistance of numerous neighborhood organizations. About two streets away from the location of the street renaming ceremony, the actual attack took place. The area where the new roadway is located is where Grandpa Vicha used to go for his morning strolls.

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