When remembering a Thai man whose death brought forward a wave of protests against anti-Asian racism in the United States, an Asian coalition on Friday called for "real action" to stop anti-Asian violence in the country.
"Today we remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, a beloved grandfather in our Southeast Asian San Francisco community," said Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate, a national coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian American discrimination, on Friday.
His death "struck a resounding chord among Asian American and Pacific Islander communities amid a surge in anti-Asian violence, racism, and xenophobia," it added.
Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old man, was fatally attacked while walking in the street near his home in San Francisco on the morning of Jan. 28, 2021. The incident was caught on camera and the video became viral on the internet and even hit international headlines.
Dearly called "Grandpa Ratanapakdee" by activists, the old man became an icon of a movement decrying the surging violence against people of Asian descent. A mural of "Grandpa Ratanapakdee" was later created in San Francisco in memory of him.
A rally in memory of Ratanapakdee will be held on Sunday near the place where he was attacked. "We encourage everybody to come and we want all the media to come as well to help us amplify the cause," said Leanna Louie, a community activist, who organized the rally.
"As communities across the nation gather to remember Ratanapakdee, we join other advocates in demanding urgent action from key decision-makers to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future," said Stop AAPI Hate in a statement.
A year after Ratanapakdee's death, there continues to be a high number of racist attacks against Asian Americans. Stop AAPI Hate received a total of 10,370 reports of hate incidents against AAPIs across the United States between March 19, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021.
A majority of the incidents happened in public, with 31.2 percent in public streets, and 26.8 percent in businesses. "While a majority of the incidents reported to our site were not hate crimes, hate incidents have proved to have a similarly devastating impact on our communities," said the organization.
The organization proposed education, community-based safety solutions and civil rights enforcement as potential solutions.
"We are looking to our elected leaders -- locally and nationally -- to make a real commitment to protecting our communities and our elders by investing in these solutions," they said.