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Last week, a man ran his car through a red light and into a group peacefully protesting in Diamond Bar against the recent surge in Asian American-Pacific Islander hate crimes in the country. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to KTLA that the incident occurred at around noon at the intersection of South Diamond Bar Blvd. and Grand Ave., and that it is now being investigated as a hate crime as well.
The incident occurred as community leaders held rallies in cities across the U.S. to speak out against hateful acts and to mourn the killings of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in Atlanta. According to the group Stop AAPI Hate, there have been more than 350 hate incidents in Los Angeles alone since the pandemic began about a year ago.
Video of the incident posted to Instagram showed the motorist driving a black Honda Civic through the intersection full of protesters, then making a U-turn and driving through a second time. Then, he pulls over and yells, “F— China, f— you,” at them. Investigators confirmed the driver shouted profanities and made racial remarks at the demonstrators before leaving the scene. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
@idalingi, who filmed one of the videos, told BuzzFeed News that the man had pulled over, exited his car briefly, and threatened to return later before leaving. “The rest of the scene was peaceful, and most passers by were supportive and respectful. But I was not there very long,” they said.
According to U.S. Census data, located about 25 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, the population of Diamond Bar is more than 58% of Asian descent.
“The brazenness of doing this at an Anti-Hate rally speaks to the level that people will go to harass and bully communities of color,” L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who attended the rally and had left just minutes before the incident happened, said in a statement quoted by ABC7.
Thanks to the video posted to Instagram, the perpetrator’s license plate was captured. Authorities have not identified the driver, but he was described as being a white man in his 50s. The hate incident investigation is being presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for possible charges, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.
In a tweet, Sheriff Alex Villanueva thanked witnesses who “came forward to report this hate incident.” “Hateful acts like this are not welcome in Los Angeles County and must STOP!” he wrote.
A recent report by the organization Stop AAPI Hate found at least 3,795 reported hate incidents targeting Asian Americans from Mar. 2020 to Feb. 2021. The number of actual hate incidents are widely considered to be much higher, since Stop AAPI Hate only counted self-reported attacks in its research. Over the past year, nationwide crimes against Asian Americans have increased and astonishingly 150%.