SEATTLE — Officers with the Seattle Police Department are asking for the public’s help to identify a man they say attacked an Asian couple downtown Saturday.
Police said the couple was walking on Virginia Avenue between 4th and 5th streets around 4:15 p.m. when the man shoved the male victim and slapped at his face mask, knocking off his glasses. (Police initially said the incident happened near 3rd and Stewart.)
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According to police, the man then told the couple, who are both Asian, “It’s all your fault.” He then spat on the male victim and ran away, police said.
Now they’re asking for your help to ID the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call the Bias Crimes Unit at 206-233-5000.
“It’s always a gut punch to hear. Anytime there’s xenophobia, racism,” said Teresita Batayola, President and CEO of International Community Health Services (ICHS), which serves a large Asian population.
“ I definitely believe the numbers are much higher than what’s been reported. People are really nervous and afraid,” Batayola said.
I've yet to experience racism like this during the pandemic. I'm lucky - many Asian Americans are not.— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) May 21, 2020
This man shoves the victim's face, spits on him, & tells the couple "It's all your fault."
SPD is investigating this as a bias crime & asking for your help to ID the suspect. pic.twitter.com/rblS6pEW1B
The Seattle Police Department said this was the seventh report of a bias incident against Asian Americans since March 10.
But it’s the second one they’re investigating in about a week.
Last Tuesday, a victim said he was harassed and called racial slurs in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.
Batayola said her staff and their patients have also experienced similar incidents. She’s urging people to report it to police when they experience any kind of bias crime.
ICHS says the ongoing toll COVID-19 is taking on the population may be further spurring these incidents.
“These reprehensible acts are continuing because we are continuing in a very heightened time in terms of people’s fears of the disease itself,” Batayola said.
“And mental health is a big issue. So you’ve got compounding issues that are happening. Being isolated, having to stay at home,” Batayola said. “It basically, it adds up to try to find somebody to blame.”
She’s urging anyone who needs it to reach out for help.
The couple who was attacked was not seriously hurt. Police said they then walked to the West Precinct and made a report.
Police said the male victim suffered minor injuries to his hand.
SPD's Bias Crimes Unit is hoping you can help identify a man who attacked a couple in downtown Seattle: https://t.co/Kb4f8W0Jiq pic.twitter.com/H8FEUOoGGH— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) May 20, 2020
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