SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A 75-year-old Chinese woman who fought back when attacked on San Francisco’s Market Street Wednesday morning spoke to KPIX 5 about the terrifying assault and the fear that continues to haunt her.
The attack was the latest in a wave of assaults and other crimes targeting Asians in the Bay Area in recent months.
From her senior retirement home in San Francisco, Xiao Zhen Xie candidly talked to KPIX 5 in an exclusive interview about the attack and her injuries, with her daughter Dong-Mei Li interpreting.
“Very traumatized, very scared and this eye is still bleeding,” Li told KPIX 5. “The right eye still cannot see anything and still bleeding and we have something to absorb the bleeding.”
Surrounded by her family, Xie, who has resided in San Francisco for 26 years, said she was quite shaken up by the unprovoked attack. In the moment, her instinct was to fight back.
The incident happened at Market St. and Charles J. Brenham Place near McAllister St. at around 10:30 a.m.
Just came upon an attack on an elderly Asian woman on Market Street San Francisco. Effort I got more details pic.twitter.com/5o8r0eeHE2
— Dennis O'Donnell (@DennisKPIX) March 17, 2021
One witness to the attack was KPIX Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell, who came upon the scene during his morning run.
In a video he captured on his cellphone, Xie is seen with an injury to the side of her face and eye and holding an ice pack to her face. Police said both Xie and her assailant were taken to a hospital for treatment.
Through her daughter, Xie told KPIX she was just waiting to cross the street at the traffic light when the suspect punched her by her left eye.
Immediately, her instincts kicked in to defend herself. While she suffered injuries and required medical attention, it was her attacker that ended up on the stretcher.
“She found the stick around the area and fought back,” explained Li.
Li said her mother cannot see at all out of her left eye and hasn’t been able to eat. The hope is that time will heal the physical and emotional wounds, but her family said the incident has left her scared for her life.
“As you can see she is extremely terrified,” Xie’s grandson John Chen told KPIX 5. “She’s terrified to even step out.”
Xie’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with her medical expenses.
San Francisco police said they are investigating the aggravated assault. The arrested the suspect, 39-year-old Steven Jenkins, Thursday, and charged him with
There was a second victim Wednesday morning: an 83-year-old Vietnamese man named Ngoc Pham. Pham continued to recover from his injuries Thursday, which included a fractured nose and possibly-fractured neck. The Community Youth Center of San Francisco set up a GoFundMe fundraising page for Pham to raise money to pay for medical costs; the goal is $25,000.
Police did not disclose a motive for Jenkins’s attack and said it was not clear whether the victim’s race had anything to do with the assault.
“We have to do our job and we have to investigate these cases with all resources brought to bear and we need to make arrests, and we’ve done that,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said Wednesday.
Both the police chief and the mayor highlighted the arrests made in connection with previous attacks in the city, promising more targeted patrols.
“We need to understand, not only what is going on, but why these attacks occur,” said Mayor London Breed. “Because in some cases they didn’t include any robbery or theft.”
Hate crimes against Asian Americans rose 150% in 2020, even as hate crimes overall declined. In January, a 91-year-old man was shoved to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown. An assault in San Francisco killed 94-year-old Vichar Ratanapakdee, while another assault left 75-year-old Pak Ho dead in Oakland last week.
The group Stop AAPI Hate said over the past year there have been nearly 4,000 hate incidents against Asians across the U.S. Assemblyman David Chui (D-San Francisco) says 1,600 of those attacks were in California.
“It’s not just the incredible violence in a number of incidents, but how racism has manifested itself in so many ways,” said Chiu.
Chiu and other Asian American and Pacific Islanders are proposing a statewide hotline for reporting and dealing with hate crimes, as well as legislations for restorative justice programs. They also want Governor Gavin Newsom to appoint an attorney general from the community.