In response to reports of increased anti-Asian violence and other hate crimes across the country, including Southern California, Los Angeles city officials issued the following statements on Feb. 26.
“Los Angeles has zero tolerance for bigotry or racism,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I am profoundly disturbed by both the rise in hate crimes directed at our Asian American and Pacific Islander neighbors and the recent incident in Koreatown.
“I want to send a clear message: first, to our AAPI communities, we stand with you and will protect you from these senseless attacks. And second, to all those who would perpetrate violence against our fellow Angelenos, you will be held accountable for your actions.”
“I unequivocally stand in solidarity with the AAPI communities against all forms of racism, hate and violence,” said Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas of the 10th District, which includes Koreatown. “It’s only through our collective commitment to fight against xenophobic rhetoric and against all those who seek to cause harm to others that we will be stronger together.”
In the Koreatown incident, Denny Kim, 27, told CNN he was waiting for a friend on Feb. 16 when he was approached by two men who started yelling racial slurs and then struck him in the face.
“All of a sudden they just started saying very terrible things,” Kim said. He said he also heard the men say, “You have the Chinese virus, go back to China,” before he was attacked.
The LAPD confirmed in a news release it was investigating a potential hate crime that took place Feb. 16 at about 8:40 p.m. on Kenmore Avenue between 6th Street and Wilshire Boulevard.
Kim’s friend Joseph Cha was getting dropped off by an Uber to meet Kim when he witnessed the attack. Cha said he saw Kim on the ground with his arms around his face as he was kicked and punched by the suspects.
When Cha arrived, the suspects fled in different directions. Cha said they yelled racial slurs as they ran away.
The two suspects, described by police as Hispanic males in their 30’s, have not been found. One was described as being about 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, with a bald head and brown eyes and wearing a long-sleeve grey shirt. The other was described as being about 5-foot-6, 140 pounds and wearing a white hoodie.
Kim said he did not immediately report the incident because he feared for his life. He eventually decided to file a police report after encouragement from a woman he met at a rally to spread awareness for anti-Asian hate crimes.
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), who represents District 53, where Koreatown is located, tweeted, “I am outraged and my soul is in pain upon hearing about the hate crime inflicted on Denny Kim in Koreatown. He was beaten and mocked with racial slurs,” Santiago said in a tweet.
Santiago told CNN, “It’s incredibly painful and terrifying” to know that incidents like this are happening “in our own backyard.”
He said the issue is “not something to be swept under the rug, it is a much bigger problem.”