Suspect in unprovoked assault of Asian man in Los Angeles not yet identified, police say

By Natasha Chen and Aya Elamroussi, CNN

Los Angeles police are looking for a suspect who was caught on surveillance video assaulting an Asian man earlier this week, authorities said.

Video footage released by police shows the suspect using his elbow to punch the victim in the face as the two stood outside a storefront in the Koreatown neighborhood on Monday. The “unprovoked” attack, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, knocked the victim to the ground, appearing unconscious in the video.

After the attack, a passerby approached the suspect, confronted him and a dialogue ensued between the two, as seen in the video. The suspect then picked up the unconscious victim and handed him to the passerby. The attacker has moved away from the viewer and the victim and no longer appears to interact with them. The video does not clearly show what happened next.

Los Angeles police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect and say they are actively investigating the attack.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations said it is contacting the LAPD to ensure detectives explore any evidence of a potential hate crime, including interviews with witnesses or suspects, publications on social media and comments made by the suspect about the incident. Authorities have yet to determine whether the assault constitutes a hate crime.

Hate crimes, including those against Asians in the United States, have risen sharply in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked attacks on Asians amid online and political rhetoric stigmatizing them, but this category of hate crime is often underreported.

In 2020, attacks targeting Asians nationwide rose from 161 to 279 in 2019, according to an FBI hate crime report. Statistics for 2021 have not yet been released.

The category of hate crime incidents where a victim was targeted because of their race, ethnicity or ancestry increased significantly between 2019 and 2020, with 8,052 single bias incidents in 2020 compared to 3,954 the last year.

“Anti-Asian violence continues”

Rights organizations say the Los Angeles attack points to a broader pattern of violence against Asian Americans, whether or not police determine the assault is a hate crime.

“To see an Asian man beaten up in Koreatown nearly 40 years to the day after the brutal murder of Vincent Chin is a sobering reminder of the continuing anti-Asian violence,” said Connie Chung Joe, who runs the non-profit organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles.

“Whether the police ultimately decide they have enough evidence to call this a hate crime or not, there is no doubt that for our Asian American community this is another example of the surge in violence and attacks against our community during this pandemic,” she said. .

Chin, a Chinese American, was beaten to death in Detroit in 1982 by two white men who worked in the auto industry at a time when the sector was facing economic decline due to Japanese competition. The couple did not spend an entire day in jail for their crime.

In Los Angeles, the county Human Relations Commission runs the LA Against Hate Program, which can offer support to victims.

Through the program, staff can arrange meetings with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to seek civil remedies if a case has elements of bias and discrimination exhibited by agencies, businesses, or individuals.

Manju Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, told CNN her organization is advocating for two bills in the California legislature to end public harassment.

“We don’t know the motivations behind this specific targeting of an Asian American, but we do know how real the anti-AAPI hate problem is – not just in violent incidents like these, but in the many other moments of public harassment where racial and ethnic slurs are shouted at AAPIs who are just trying to live their lives,” Kulkarni said.

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Christina Carrega and Priya Krishnakumar contributed to this report.

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