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Sunday, May 29, 2022

The death of Fremont native Michelle Goh was not called a hate crime, but it adds to the fear felt by Asian Americans.

Nicole Chavez | CNN

A surge of emotion shot through Chong Bretillon’s body as she rode her bike into Times Square, where massive billboards featured portraits of Fremont native Michelle Alyssa Goh and many Asian-American victims of biased attacks.

“I was overwhelmed with grief and sadness,” said Bretillon, a 41-year-old Korean-American and college professor. “It brought it all together, the fears of the Asian American community and the issue of racial violence.”

“It made you aware that this is happening and you can’t look away,” said Bretillon, who was in Times Square at a pro-Go picket earlier this week.

The death of Guo, who was pushed to her death in front of a Times Square subway train, shocked Asian Americans in the United States, although the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime. It sparked a sort of collective grief in a community hit by a rise in anti-Asian violence in recent years, advocates say.

Guo was 40 and worked in M&A for the multi-million dollar financial firm Deloitte Services LP. She is remembered as a compassionate woman who volunteered her time to help women, children, and the homeless.

A 61-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with Guo’s death, drawing renewed attention to the growing homeless crisis and the ongoing wave of anti-Asian violence.

While police say the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime, according to Song Yong Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian-Pacific American Women’s Forum, it’s impossible to separate what Asian Americans have experienced over the past two years from Goh’s death.

“You can tell me whatever you want, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m Asian, but when I look at pictures of Michelle Goh and read the story, I see myself in it,” Choymorrow said.

Charles Jung, an attorney and chief executive of the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association, said it may be hard to say Guo’s death fits the legal burden of proving a hate crime, but “that doesn’t mean it’s not real” that it is. “originated in an atmosphere of anti-Asian scapegoating, fear of racism” and numerous other violent attacks.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people in the US have been victims of anti-Asian incidents ranging from verbal abuse to physical attacks.

In New York, the number of hate crimes involving Asian Americans has increased from 28 in 2020 to at least 129 incidents in 2021, said James Essig, NYPD Detective Chief. press conference last month.

When Guo died, human rights activists and the Asian American community in New York were still mourning the death of Yao Pang Ma, a 62-year-old Asian man who police said had been hit in the head in an unprovoked attack in East Harlem.

He died from his injuries eight months after the attack, which came just over a month after eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in a shootout at resorts in the Atlanta area.

As with last year’s shooting in Georgia, Choymorrow says Guo’s death particularly resonated with Asian women, who are often seen as “easy targets” due to centuries of the notion of being timid and docile.

“Now we have people who are harassing us because we are Asians and they are persecuting us because, as women, we are considered easier targets than men,” Choymorrow said.

“Michelle Goh was just like the rest of us”

Earlier this week, portraits of Guo and several Asian Americans killed and injured in violent attacks shone over Times Square. Jonathan Chang started painting them from Los Angeles almost a year ago, after the death of 84-year-old Thai-American Wichi Ratanapakdi, who was forcibly pushed to the ground by a stranger.

Chang says he was outraged by Ratanapakdi’s attack, but a friend told him to use those emotions and his talent as a designer and illustrator to honor his life with a drawing.

According to him, soon after he posted the portrait of Ratanapakdi on social networks, thousands of people began to share it. As the weeks and months passed, he continued to paint portrait after portrait of Asian American abuse victims whose stories he felt needed to be expanded.

World Nation News Desk
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