Tacoma Police in Washington state are now investigating an anti-Asian hate crime captured in a viral video that shows black suspects assaulting an older Korean couple who are screaming for help. The incident itself occurred in late November 2020, but the clip just gained traction amid the #StopAsianHate movement.
The tape displays an Asian man and woman walking when two teenage boys or young adults charge at them. A third culprit recorded the assault. The male victim is punched while the woman cries out. Both are taunted by the assailants.
KOMO-TV crime and justice journalist Jonathan Choe reported that the terrified female victim yells in Korean just before the attack: "Don't do it." One of the attackers can be heard shouting expletives on-camera.
Tacoma Police's official Twitter account announced that the department is aware of the 45-second clip circulating on social media. "We stand in solidarity with our AAPI community," the Tacoma Police Department tweeted Wednesday. Law enforcement has identified the victims as of Thursday evening after the couple's daughter saw the video uploaded online, KOMO-TV reported.
KIRO 7 reporter Kevin Ko interviewed one of the victims and discussed what happened. "I just don’t understand why I was attacked," the man told Ko.
The local journalist asked, "Do you think it's because you're Asian? Or do you think they didn't know you were Asian?" The male victim answered Ko: "I have to think so. I'm Asian. I'm older, and I'm not that big."
The husband and wife were traveling along Stevens Street near the couple's apartment when the man said he saw four teens he had not seen before appear, and then the group bumped into him. The man asked if the boys were okay. He said that's when someone else tripped him. As the man picked himself up from the ground, fists came flying. The suspects fled, leaving the man bloodied at the scene.
The attack occurred on Nov. 19 of last year, but the original report taken by police did not indicate that the attack was motivated by racial hate, Tacoma Police Department told KOMO-TV. "We do not have a lot of detail regarding the incident other than the videos," said Tacoma Police Officer Wendy Haddow.
The man said he received an incident report the day he was attacked but did not hear back from police. "Does this not matter? That's how I took it," the man expressed. The family has been wondering about the case since November and even left Tacoma because they said they felt unsafe in the area.
A 15-year-old male has since been arrested for second-degree assault, Choe reported Friday evening. Authorities are still searching for suspects while the investigation is ongoing. The Tacoma Police Department is seeking help from the public regarding the footage. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
"We want to emphasize people should please call the Tacoma Police Department, not act on any information," Haddow told Tacoma News Tribune. "We do not want one unfortunate event to lead to another unfortunate event."
Just this week, Tacoma Police declared via Monday press release that the department condemns the alarming nationwide rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
The "statement of solidarity" emphasized that each resident "deserves to live their life with safety, dignity and respect," stressing that the department "will protect and serve everyone in service to our community."
"We encourage all those in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community to report all crimes to help us fulfill our mission of creating a safe and secure environment," Tacoma Police wrote. "By working together, we are stronger when we face these challenges as one. The Tacoma Police Department is here to protect Tacoma's values by standing strongly against anti-Asian xenophobia and hate."
There was just one single incident in the city of Tacoma recorded in all of January and February. Last year, the department investigated 24 hate crime incidents. In 2019, there were 25 reports, KOMO-TV cited. Tacoma Police said none of these prior incidents targeted Asian Americans.
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