Woman, spat on last May in SPD’s first reported anti-Asian pandemic-related crime, speaks out

SEATTLE — A Seattle woman, who is Asian American, was spat on last May during the start of the pandemic and is now speaking out.

Katie, who only wants to use her first name, was crossing the street at Lenora and 7th last May when a stranger targeted her out of nowhere.

“I felt someone’s spit and this man walked next to me,” Katie recounted. “I turned around and he was just flipping me off and he was saying things like ‘Get used to it,’ and he was saying things like ‘That’s what you get. Get used to it.’ "

Her mind was racing. As she tried to process what just happened, she also feared that he would get more violent.

“It dawned on me that this person was targeting me because I’m Asian. And there was no other reason for him to spit on me except for the fact that he somehow blamed me for this pandemic,” Katie said.

When this happened last May, COVID-19 tests weren’t as readily available as they are now. Katie said she went through great lengths and had to wait three hours to be tested for a disease she was wrongly blamed for.

Katie’s incident was the first anti-Asian, pandemic-related case reported to Seattle Police.

Weeks later, and blocks away in Belltown, SPD released video which showed a man violently shoving an Asian couple and spitting on them.

SPD believes the same guy then randomly punched another Asian person outside a train in the Chinatown International District.

He still hasn’t been caught.

SPD is still looking into whether the incidents are related to Katie’s and stress the importance of reporting.

“Some of these cases, I can go back, and look for a specific victim suspect pattern, demographic pattern to see if I can find other cases which may be that same suspect so I can link cases together potentially,” said Det. Elizabeth Wareing, SPD’s Bias Crimes Coordinator.

Katie, who is Korean, immediately reported the crime to police, but she didn’t want to share what happened publicly at first.

But then more anti-Asian attacks kept happening. They were escalating. Over the last year, nearly 3,800 hate incidents toward Asian Americans have been recorded nationally since the start of the pandemic.

When Katie saw the spa shootings in Atlanta where six Asian Americans were killed, she said she could no longer stay silent.

“I think that I used to always think that I could just work myself out of the discrimination that I faced. If I just worked harder, if I just was the best I could be - I couldn’t be denied the value that I brought. But this year has taught me that we can’t outwork systemic racism,” Katie explained.

For change to happen, Katie believes victims must come forward and make reports to police.

“That’s the only way we’re ever going to know the breadth and depth of this problem, and we deserve to be able to live and exist without abuse,” Katie added.