An artery in San Francisco was renamed last weekend in commemoration of the 84-year-old Thai grandfather who was killed in a brutal attack last year that spurred the Asian-American community in action against physical and verbal augmentation attacks during the pandemic.
According to usnews.com, a short lane in Sonora near the University of San Francisco was renamed “Vicha Ratanapakdee Way” at an afternoon rally that drew hundreds of people. Speakers included Vicha’s daughter, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, and actor Daniel Dae Kim.
Vicha was on his usual morning walk in January 2021 when Antoine Watson, then 19, knocked him to the ground. Vicha died two days later, without regaining consciousness. His death has become a symbol of the national movement to end hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Asians in America had long been the subject of extreme prejudice, and the attacks intensified when the coronavirus emerged in late 2019, dubbed “Chinese flu” by then US President Donald Trump. Watson is on trial for murder.
The American artist behind a portrait of Vicha expressed disgust and sadness at the rise of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States. Los Angeles artist Jonathan D. Chang drew the portrait of Vicha, 84, and posted it on Instagram as a tribute to the murder victim, saying the entire Asian-American community had been turned into goats emissary for growing anti-China sentiment. “My condolences to the family of Vicha Ratanapakdee. I hope justice will be done.”
After multiple incidents of violence against Asian Americans in the United States, President Joe Biden signed hate crimes legislation last year, taking action against “…a nasty poison that has long plagued the our country”.
“Too many Asian Americans woke up in the last year genuinely fearing for their safety, just opening their doors and walking down the street,” Biden said.