In the latest in a wave of anti-Asian violence across the country, a 76-year-old woman was attacked on a main street in San Francisco, California, leaving her “very scared and traumatized,” her family said.
On Wednesday — just a day after a mass shooting in Georgia that killed eight people, including six Asian women — Xiao Zhen Xie was waiting at a traffic light on Market street in downtown San Francisco when a man came up and punched her in the face unprovoked, her family told CBS local news KPIX.
A viral video from the immediate aftermath of the attack shows the woman holding an ice pack to her bruised face, while the man who allegedly attacked her is wheeled away by paramedics, bleeding from the mouth after she apparently hit him back with a stick while defending herself.
“My mom feels dizzy and very scared and traumatized and very hurt,” Dong-Mei Li, Xie’s daughter, told KPIX in an interview after she got out of the hospital, adding that her mother still can’t see out of her injured eye.
“She is extremely terrified, she’s terrified to even step out,” Xie’s grandson John Chen said, as his grandmother cried.
The attack is part of a surge in racist violence that Asian Americans have been reporting since early 2020, often related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hate crimes targeting members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community rose by 150% in major U.S. cities last year, per a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.
A coalition of Asian American advocacy groups called Stop AAPI Hate has recorded an alarming 3,795 reports of racist violence against Asian Americans since last March — over 1,600 of which were in California alone. Some reported being called racial slurs, spat on and physically assaulted. Women made up two-thirds of those targeted by the violence.
Video of the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s attack in San Francisco went viral after a KPIX reporter happened upon the scene:
A man was arrested in connection with the attack, and is also suspected of another attack in the city, the San Francisco police department told HuffPost. Police did not immediately provide further details.
The second victim was later identified by a local official as Ngoc Pham, an 83-year-old Vietnamese man, who was attacked in the same area while out shopping for groceries. His family said he is still in the hospital with bruises and cuts to his face and a fractured nose.
The incident follows a series of horrific attacks on Asian people, and particularly elders, in the Bay Area in recent months. In January, a 91-year-old man was shoved to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown and a 84-year-old Thai man in San Francisco was shoved and killed. Earlier this week, 59-year-old Danny Yu Chang was beaten on the same Market Street in San Francisco’s downtown.
The San Francisco district attorney’s office has not yet received all materials needed from police to consider charges in Wednesday’s attack, the office told HuffPost.
“I am devastated by the recent acts of violence against Asian victims and my heart breaks for the entire AAPI community that has been victimized by violence and fear,” DA Chesa Boudin said. “We will fight to overcome hate, violence, and bigotry and make sure that our most vulnerable community members are — and feel — safe.”