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New SF Street Signs Honor ‘Grandpa Vicha,’ Thai Man Killed Last Year in an Attack

Written by Han LiPublished Oct. 01, 2022 • 2:44pm
The new street sign named after Vicha Ratanapakdee is revealed on Oct. 1, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif. | Evan Reinhardt for The Standard

English

San Francisco unveiled new street signs on Saturday to honor an 84-year-old Thai American man who was killed in early 2021.

“Vicha Ratanapakdee Way,” the name of the elderly Asian victim, replaces the original “Sonora Lane,” a staircase in the Anza Vista neighborhood where Ratanapakdee was taking his usual morning walk when he was violently pushed to the ground.

The incident exploded in national headlines as footage of the violence went viral. Ratanapakdee, who’s remembered by those who knew him as “Grandpa Vicha,” went on to become a prominent face of the national Stop Asian Hate movement.

City leaders and politicians stand with family of Vicha Ratanapakdee during the street renaming ceremony on Oct. 1, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif. Ratanapakdee’s death sparked a movement to eliminate more AAPI hate crimes throughout the city. | Evan Reinhardt for The Standard

“I hope the rename for my father will remind the young generation that we need no more violence in our society,” his daughter, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, told The Standard.

She said her father used to walk on the now-renamed path every day to exercise, and that she will always remember the love and kindness he taught her to emulate. 

After Ratanapakdee’s death, Monthanus has become a leading local voice against anti-Asian violence.

@sfstandard

San Francisco renamed its Sonora Steps to honor Grandpa Vicha Ratanapakdee, a Thai-American elder who died after being attacked in 2021. #sf #sanfrancisco #aapi #stopasianhate

♬ original sound – The San Francisco Standard

More than 200 people attended the unveiling ceremony, including Asian American activist and Hollywood star Daniel Dae Kim as well as multiple local elected officials.

“Mr. Ratanapakdee was a grandfather, a husband and a father,” Kim said, “and simply, he’s one of us.”

Kim said the street sign will be a “powerful reminder” of the community’s strength, and an assurance that his story will not be forgotten and erased.

Actor Daniel Dae Kim addresses supporters of Vicha Ratanapakdee during the street renaming ceremony on Oct. 1, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif. Kim said he was deeply affected by the news of Ratanapakdee’s killing. | Evan Reinhardt for The Standard

San Francisco started the renaming process last year, which required coordinating with different city departments, sorting out the state and city codes on street name changes, and gathering community input. The final naming proposal was passed this June.

No Trial Date Yet

The suspect, 21-year-old Antonie Watson, remains in custody since his arrest on Jan. 30, 2021, and is charged with murder and elder abuse.

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Monthanus has previously stated that she believed the violence was racially motivated

The legal proceeding of the case has attracted continuous media attention, including when former District Attorney Chesa Boudin sparked outrage by characterizing Watson in a New York Times article as acting out “in some sort of a temper tantrum.”

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins embraces Monthanus Ratanapakdee, daughter of Vicha Ratanapakdee, during the street renaming ceremony on Oct. 1, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif. The crowd cheered for Jenkins after Ratanapakdee publicly thanked her. | Evan Reinhardt for The Standard

Anita Nabha, the public defender representing Watson, said in June that Watson was going through “a period of trauma and mental distress when he tragically pushed Mr. Ratanapakdee” and denied the incident was motivated by racial animus.

While she argued that there’s insufficient evidence to show the suspect’s intent to kill, a San Francisco judge has ordered the case to enter a murder trial in June, but no trial date has been set.

The next court hearing, which will be a pretrial conference, is set for Tuesday.

English

Han Li can be reached at [email protected]


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