Hundreds turned out Sunday morning in the Anza Vista neighborhood—and in cities across the U.S.—to remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, the 84-year-old Thai-American grandfather who was violently shoved to death one year ago. His death became a flashpoint amid a surge in anti-Asian hate and violence during the pandemic and helped launch the national Stop Asian Hate movement.
The fatal assault, which was caught on video, took place in Anza Vista on Jan. 28, 2021; Ratanapakdee died two days later. Since then, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, the daughter of the victim, has been an outspoken activist against Asian hate. She said that it’s hard to believe that her father has already been gone for a year and that she misses him every day. She urged the community to stay strong in these challenging times.
“I remember my father told me I have to be strong for my young boy, even [though] I am tired,” the victim’s daughter said Sunday. “Please be strong.”
Vanita Louie, a city commissioner and a Chinese community activist who has lived in the Anza Vista neighborhood for decades, described the incidents as “horrific” and "surreal," adding that the neighborhood is usually very safe. “For somebody to come into this neighborhood and murder an innocent man like that, I don’t think you can ever get over that,” Louie said.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, joined by several other elected officials including City Attorney David Chiu, State Senator Scott Wiener, and Supervisors Catherine Stefani and Rafael Mandelman, led the crowd in marching and chanting slogans.
“We wish we didn’t meet under these circumstances,” said Breed. “I still feel a lot of the pain and the hurt. And sadly, that never goes away.”
A coalition of Asian American advocacy groups organized similar events marking the one-year anniversary of Ratanapakdee's violent death in five other major cities across the U.S., including New York City and Los Angeles.
Stefani, the lawmaker representing the area, has proposed renaming a lane in the neighborhood as “Vicha Ratanapakdee Way” in honor of the victim.
San Francisco police arrested 19-year-old Antoine Watson days after the attack. He’s currently in custody and charged with murder and inflicting injuries on an elder. The next court date in the case is set for Feb. 23.
Han Li can be reached at [email protected]