LOS ANGELES, CA—January 28, 2022 marks the one-year anniversary of the death of beloved Thai elder Vicha Ratanapakdee. A grandfather recognized by his neighbors for his early morning walks through the Anza Vista neighborhood in San Francisco, Ratanapakdee became recognized across the country as one prominent face among far too many victims of anti-Asian violence. On this day in 2021, Ratanapakdee was spontaneously shoved to the ground while out for a morning walk, sustaining injuries from which he would not recover. As one particularly horrific incident in what has become an undeniable surge in anti-Asian hate throughout the nation, Ratanapakdee’s death struck a resounding chord among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities–one that still rings true today, just two weeks after the killing of Michelle Alyssa Go in New York City.
As our communities process these tragedies and seek healing and justice, there is no denying the fear that has rocked communities to their core, leading to more than one out of five AAPI respondents to a recent Stop AAPI Hate survey stating that they are reluctant to go back to in-person work because of potential anti-AAPI hate or discrimination. In these times of community struggle, we come together for strength, because it’s our communities that hold us together, and offer us a vehicle for creating real, systemic change.
This Sunday, January 30, 2022, AAPI Equity Alliance will gather alongside Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and our allies at Wat Thai of Los Angeles at 11am PST to participate in the nationwide Asian Justice Rally. Organized by AAPI Equity member organization, Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC), the rally will commemorate Vicha Ratanapakdee and all other victims of anti-Asian violence. AAPI Equity Executive Director Manjusha P. Kulkarni will share remarks alongside other esteemed speakers, acknowledging the pain our communities feel while demanding that our elected leaders address the safety concerns of AAPIs head on.
In our pursuit of justice, however, we hold true to our values of community-based solutions to violence and cross-racial solidarity. We remember, as we gather in the name of Vicha Ratanpakdee, that the trial of Antoine Watson is ongoing, the case is still under investigation, and this incident has yet to be determined to be racially motivated. Regardless of the motivations, AAPI Equity Alliance is committed to interventions that work with impacted communities to center healing and prevention against all forms of violence, including victim services, violence prevention, and other non-carceral solutions. We know the real harm that law enforcement brings to bear on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and we are committed to strategies that build safety for AAPI and all BIPOC.
On this anniversary, we draw our AAPI communities close, in care and support, and remember a man deeply loved by his family and friends, whose untimely death spurs us to renew our fight against the long-standing injustices AAPI communities continue to face.
For more information about the Asian Justice Rally, visit asianjusticerally.org.
AAPI Equity Alliance is a coalition of over 40 community-based organizations who advocate for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across Los Angeles County, and a founding partner of Stop AAPI Hate. For more information, visit aapiequityalliance.org or @AAPIEquityAlliance on Facebook and Instagram, and @AAPIEquity on Twitter.