TORONTO – People are changing their profile pictures on social media to honor a San Francisco senior who died after being knocked to the ground in an allegedly racially motivated attack on his family.
Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, died on January 31 at San Francisco General Hospital “from injuries sustained a few days earlier during his morning walk in the Anza Vista neighborhood,” according to GoFundMe, organized by family member Eric Lawson.
Lawson describes Ratanapakdee as originally from Thailand and as an “almost blind, gentle person loved by his family” who was “forcibly taken from them”.
“Our family has seen several verbal anti-Asian attacks since the pandemic started … this time it was fatal. Racism has again proven deadly. Anti-Asian racism has become a very serious threat to all Asian Americans, especially in San Francisco, ”Lawson wrote.
The San Francisco District Attorney has filed charges of murder and elder abuse against the 19-year-old suspect in the Antoine Watson case, calling the crime a “brutal murder”.
The charges against Watson have not been proven in court. Local media reports said he pleaded not guilty when he first appeared in court.
In a surveillance video showing the attack, a man is seen walking in from the right side of the frame and violently knocking Ratanapakdee to the ground, where the senior remains vulnerable. The man then seems to calmly walk away.
“At around 8:30 am on January 28, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was violently and abruptly attacked by a man in the Anza Vista neighborhood,” said the district attorney’s release.
“The murder of Mr Ratanapakdee … was particularly painful for the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community, which has been the victim of numerous cases of violence, hatred and racism since the beginning of the pandemic,” the press release said District Attorney Chesa Boudin further describes it as a “terrible, pointless” attack.
Los Angeles-based illustrator Jonathan D. Chang paid tribute to Ratanapakdee on Monday with a stylized portrait and wrote in an Instagram post about his “condolences to the family” and his hope that “justice will be served”.
“After watching the video, I expressed (my friend Sarah) how frustrated I was that this was going to be another sweep under the carpet attack on an Asian American,” Chang wrote in an email to CTVNews.approx.
“It gave me the idea to make a sketch of him to give the incident a face and to raise awareness of how terrible and widespread the anti-Asian crimes were.”
In response, social media users changed their profile pictures to Chang’s portrait of Ratanapakdee in a show of solidarity.
“People like Mr. Ratanapakdee should take it easy and enjoy the rest of their lives at their old age without being murdered on the street for no reason,” wrote Chang. “There have been so many attacks on the elderly in Asia and outside of Asia-facing social media sites that they are not being reported.”
“If we don’t show that we care about injustices that happen to our own community, why should anyone care?”
A message attributed to Ratanapakdee’s daughter on the GoFundMe page stated, “There are no words that can describe how our family feels about this overwhelming loss. Our father goes on his morning walk following his daily routine of preparing his young grandchildren for their day after. I just survived his recent heart surgery and then kept coming back to our family. It’s that pointless [sic]. ”
The GoFundMe raised more than $ 35,000 for the family to cover funeral arrangements.