Advertisement
Share

An Asian woman, attacked in San Francisco, is donating nearly $1 million to fight racism

People hold signs that say "Stop Asian hate" and "Hate is virus."
Hundreds turn out for a rally Saturday in San Francisco’s Chinatown to protest hate crimes against Asian Americans.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

An Asian American woman who was attacked in downtown San Francisco last week will donate nearly $1 million to combat racism against Asians, according to her grandson.

The 75-year-old woman, Xiao Zhen Xie, is recovering after the brutal attack last week, which left her with two swollen and bleeding black eyes. The money comes from an online fundraiser her grandson, John Chen, organized to pay her medical bills.

San Francisco police said 39-year-old Steven Jenkins struck Xie, unprovoked, at 7th and Market streets on March 17.

KPIX-TV Channel 5 reported that Xie defended herself by punching her attacker. Videos showed the woman on a street corner with a bruised face as the attacker lay on a stretcher.

Advertisement

The attack came the day after a gunman killed eight people, including six Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas.

Though it is unclear whether the Atlanta massacre was racially motivated, many Asian Americans saw it as the culmination of a string of attacks against Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With former President Trump and others using racial language like “kung flu” and “China virus” to highlight the virus’ origins in China, many Asian Americans have been verbally or physically assaulted. The attack on Xie is one of several violent assaults on Asian American senior citizens in San Francisco and Oakland that have prompted volunteers to start security patrols.

Even before the Atlanta-area spa attacks that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, volunteer groups have sprung up to defend their Asian American communities in California.

Chen wrote on a GoFundMe page that his grandmother, who has lived in San Francisco for 26 years and is a cancer survivor, had a bruised wrist in addition to serious emotional distress.

Her story and reported defense of herself spread rapidly on social media. Donations poured in — more than $965,000 in a week.

In an update posted Monday, Chen noted that his grandmother had improved — the swelling around her left eye had decreased, and she was in better spirits. He also said she was adamant about donating all the funds “to the Asian American community to combat racism.”

“She said we must not [submit] to racism and we must fight to the death if necessary,” Chen wrote. “She insists on making this decision saying this issue is bigger than Her.”

Jenkins had assaulted an 83-year-old Asian man earlier Wednesday at the U.N. Plaza, said San Francisco police spokesman Robert Rueca.

A security guard saw the attack and began to chase Jenkins, Rueca said.

While running away, Jenkins struck Xie at 7th and Market streets.

Jenkins was arrested and hospitalized for injuries unrelated to the attacks, Rueca said.

The advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate has tracked more than 3,700 self-reported verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans across the U.S. since the pandemic began.

About 68% of the anti-Asian attacks documented during the pandemic were verbal harassment, 21% were shunning and 11% were physical assaults.

San Francisco police conducted 17 hate crime investigations of all types in 2020, up from six a year before, according to SFPD data.

“Just the thought of leaving your house and being killed or seriously injured for being Asian is an extremely disturbing thought,” Chen wrote. “All the hatred that is happening towards the AAPI community has deeply angered and saddened our family. The AAPI community is bleeding from this violence and hatred. We as a community cannot stay silent nor be silenced anymore.”


Advertisement