UPTOWN — A 60-year-old Asian man was attacked in Uptown’s Asia on Argyle district last weekend in an incident the man’s family is asking police to investigate as a hate crime.
The man left his Uptown home around 11 p.m. March 20 to go for a walk. At Broadway and Ainslie Street, a man came up from behind and sucker-punched him in his head, said Kaylee, the victim’s daughter. Block Club is not publishing her last name to protect the family’s safety.
When he turned around to head back home, he saw someone standing on Broadway and staring at him, with a baseball bat tucked under their arm, Kaylee said.
Kaylee’s dad took out his phone and acted as if he was calling 9-1-1 to get away from the baseball bat-wielding man, she said.
Her father made it home and went to bed, only mentioning the incident the next morning, when his head still hurt from being attacked the night before, Kaylee said. Her father refused medical attention, knowing his children would have to pay for it, she said.
Her father could not get a good view of the man who punched him but said the man with a bat was white, Kaylee said.
“My dad, he was scared for his life,” Kaylee said. “I never thought it would happen to my family, especially my dad. I’m scared. What if my dad decided to fight back? Would the other man have jumped in?”
The incident is the latest attack on Asian Americans in a wave of hate crimes throughout the country. Violence targeting Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has a long history in the United States, but it has spiked over the past year amid racist rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Two days before Kaylee’s dad was attacked, a gunman in Georgia killed eight people, including six Asian women. Asian Americans have also recently been attacked on the streets of places including San Francisco and New York City.
Kaylee’s family came from Vietnam to the United States in 2002, first living in Oklahoma City before coming to Chicago. Though they were aware of the recent attacks against Asians, they did not expect such a thing to happen in Uptown, one of the city’s most diverse communities and home to one of the city’s biggest Asian communities.
“I told my dad not to step out at night any more,” Kaylee said. “Last summer, he always took my kids out, take them on walks to the park. Right now, I’m afraid. I don’t know if I should let him.”
Once Kaylee heard her dad’s story of being attacked, she worked to notify the police, but she ran into complications in reporting the incident, she said.
Kaylee called 311 the day after her dad was attacked, thinking it was no longer an emergency requiring 9-1-1. She was then told to call 9-1-1, but she had problems getting through to someone who could direct her how to file a police report, she said.
Kaylee eventually filed an online report of the incident. But the Chicago Police Department’s web system did not process it because battery incidents must be reported in person and they must involve the victim, a police spokesperson said.
Kaylee said Friday that police reached out and told her an officer would meet her and her father to take a report.
“I want them to take this more seriously,” she said. “It was hard to file a report about a hate crime.”
Chicago Police said in a statement the department is working with leaders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to protect against possible attacks, and that is “maintaining an ongoing police presence” in neighborhoods with large Asian populations.
“We will not tolerate violence against any members of our community and will investigate all reported incidents thoroughly,” department officials said in a statement.
The Uptown incident comes as Chicago’s Asian community is already on high alert after the Georgia shootings and other recent hate crimes.
A hate tracker from Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian discrimination, found there were nearly 3,800 incidents of hate crimes reported nationally March 2020-February 2021. Women of Asian descent reported more than twice as many incidents of violence as men.
The tracker reported 92 incidents in Illinois, making it the seventh-most reported state in the country.
Despite those numbers, hate crimes against Asians are likely under reported, because of language barriers and other restrictions, Catherine Shieh, the anti-hate training coordinator for Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Chicago chapter in Uptown, previously told Block Club.
Groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Uptown’s Chinese Mutual Aid Association are working on bystander training to prevent attacks and social awareness campaigns to stop the hate.
Kaylee said she is hoping police, community groups and neighbors can help step up and stop future racist violence against Asians, for her family and the rest of the community’s sake.
“We just don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” she said.
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