Authorities in California are investigating a potential hate crime after a man was seen driving through a crowd of protesters at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally over the weekend while yelling racist slurs.
Video posted to Instagram on Sunday shows demonstrators appearing to exchange words with the driver of a black Honda Civic while the vehicle is stopped at a red light in the city of Diamond Bar, which is east of Los Angeles. As the protesters walk past the car along a crosswalk, the vehicle appears to drive through the red light and do an illegal U-turn while driving toward one of the demonstrators.
The driver shouted racial epithets — including one targeting Black people and “fuck China” — as he drove away, local station KCAL reported.
No injuries were reported during the incident, authorities said.
The rally was held six days after a gunman killed eight people, including six Asian American women, at massage spas in Georgia last week.
“Hateful acts like this are not welcome in Los Angeles County and must STOP! ” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted Monday. He later wrote that the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
Authorities said they believe the driver is a white male in his 50s. There were no updates available on a possible arrest as of Wednesday morning, authorities told HuffPost.
“The facts of the incident will presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for filing consideration,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans rose by 150% in America’s largest cities last year, with the first spikes starting shortly after the pandemic was declared in the spring, according to a study of police records by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. Former President Donald Trump repeatedly blamed China for COVID-19 and used racist terms to refer to the coronavirus.