Asian American communities stand up amid string of violent attacks

Monthanus Ratanapakdee mourns her 84-year-old father, who was attacked on a walk and died from his injuries. Celebrities and activists of all races ban together to fight hate in our communities.
9:44 | 02/18/21

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Asian American communities stand up amid string of violent attacks
Chang has the story. Reporter: She's grieving for her father, an always gentle soul. Happy birthday dear grandpa Reporter: Her dad vichar moved from Thailand to San Francisco to help his daughter and son-in-law, Eric, take care of their two sons. It wasn't long before the whole neighborhood fell in love with Grandpa always friendly to all the neighbors, grandpa always teaching us about forgiveness. All the neighbor remember him and his smiling. Reporter: But this is the video no daughter wants to see. Surveillance cameras capturing the moment her 84-year-old dad was attacked and violently knocked to the ground on a morning walk. I don't want to see it. It's a broken heart. Reporter: Vichar died two days later in the hospital. He never wake up again, bleeding on his brain. What did you say to him when you got to see him in the hospital? Dad, wake up. I want him to stay alive and wake up and come and see me again. But he never wake up again. And I pray for him. Reporter: The Thai immigrant's death one of a slew of assaults against elderly asian-americans in northern California, drawing the spotlight after celebrities like Daniel woo and Daniel day Kim brought star power and a $25,000 reward. A visceral response, I got very angry. I thought, this is now a year of these kinds of things going on. Reporter: The videos prompting more than 1,000 people to gather over the weekend in the bay area to speak out against anti-asian violence, calling for racial justice. Police arrested a 19-year-old suspect who pled not guilty to murder and elderly abuse. His lawyers saying his client had no knowledge of Mr. Ratanapakdee's race since his face was fully covered, insisting his attack wasn't racially motivated and instead had to do with a mental break. Even no hate crime charges were filed, some blame the tension between black people and asian-americans. I think they targeting to the asian-american community. We need the black community to realize that black people are hurting Asians, and they need to speak out in their own community. It is not just a black and Asian issue. It is something in the psyche of this country where somehow it's okay to abuse -- physically or verbally abuse asian-americans. We're being scape goated. How do you try to distinguish between crimes of opportunity, crimes of simple rage, versus racism? We can talk about all the nuances, but this is not just one community. It is every community. We have the tech CEO in silicon valley who verbally abused an Asian family in a restaurant. Asian piece of . Then we have Torrance Karen. Go back to whatever Asian country you belong in. Reporter: Community leader Dr. Connie won says it's clear Asians are being scapegoated and blamed for the pandemic. When the previous administration said things publicly, like the Wuhan virus -- The China flu. The Chen virus. The plague from China. He helped to stoke the fires of anti-asian violence against our communities. Reporter: Stop aapi hate began collecting more than 2,800 reports nationwide of anti-asian hate between March and December. The NYPD reporting a nearly 2,000% increase in asian-american hate crimes last year. But Dr. Won says these accounts are merely the tip of the iceberg. Our communities are not reporting these incidents. We don't want to cause more trouble, more attention to our communities. Reporter: In this moment, with calls for racial justice echoing, a broader conversation is taking shape. Historically, there have been tensions between the African-American and asian-american communities. George Floyd galvanized the two communities in a way I'd never seen before. I'd never seen more asian-americans standing up in support of black lives matter. Myself included. And so I'm hoping that that momentum carries over into these cases, because it really ultimately is about a collective, unified response to injustice. Reporter: Historically, black and asian-americans have come into conflict in big cities, perhaps most dramatically during the unrest in Los Angeles following the Rodney king verdict. A riot sparked by what was felt to be an unjust verdict for a black man also became an economic war against Koreans. In what ways have blacks been pitted against Asians? White America tends to privilege Asians and asian-americans in ways they do not our black and latinx community members. It is about the model minority myth, which is that our communities are excellin "Pretty rich Asians." The bling empire. Those are not the real-life depictions of what our communities really look like. Just landed in San Francisco, we hit the ground running. Reporter: Will leks ham is part of the generation helping move that momentum forward. We're sick and tired of being invisible and ignored in our country. The pain of the Asian community has been muted for decades. Reporter: The actor flew from his home in New York to the bay area to spend the weekend in San Francisco's historic chinatown. Handing out self-defense whistles. Passing out pamphlets in Chinese informing people how to report hate crimes in their communities. Ham also met with local leaders on the ground. You don't fight racism with racism, you fight racism with solidarity. Reporter: Quickly realized he has a lot to learn. This is the Oakland anti-asian racism and violence rally. Joined by our black brothers and sisters. This is a call to action to everybody else who believes. Asian-american history is American history that needs to be taught. When they came to the bay area, I first learned about all these incredible asian-americans who have been doing the work for decades and utilizing their relationships with black community leaders and a lot of the solidarity work that has been happening here to condemn the violence, to condemn the anti-asian hate crimes. Reporter: Activists are also looking towards lawmakers like New York congresswoman grace mang. Last year she passed a house resolution condemning anti-asian hate speech. I started to get voice mails -- I'm calling about the karate kid virus. Hey, you look like a Chinese virus, you fat slob. There was just so much hate. And even though I and so many asian-americans were born and raised in the United States of America, there are always instances where we are made to feel that we are foreigners. It's like when you're shouting in the wilderness, our people are getting attacked, our people are getting harassed, spat on, beat up, slashed. Please, somebody pay attention. Please, notice us. Give me confirmation that I am American too. And I just haven't been able to feel that in a long time. I know you have children. I'm a mom too. What do you say to them? I said, look, this is what's going on. There are people in this country who will take a look at you and without knowing anything about you, may call you something that is derogatory, may even try to cause harm to you. It strikes me that this is the Asian equivalent of "The talk" that African-American parents often have to have with their children. I've had, you know, very sort of superficial talks about, you know, understanding people's different racial backgrounds. It was really one of the first times that I as a mom of two young boys started to be scared for their life and what might happen to them in public. Reporter: That fear is something their young sons, who lost their grandfather so tragically, have had to deal with firsthand. I've been outside with the kids, and then I've been attacked verbally. The yelling and then, "You are sick, you are a virused Asian." How did your kids react to that? We know there is violence, we just walk away. Reporter: That pain pales in comparison to her father's murder. We want him to be the spark that starts the healing and the recognition of what's going on. I miss him a lot, every day. He's a caring person. We can't believe this happened. Our thanks to juju.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"9:44","description":"Monthanus Ratanapakdee mourns her 84-year-old father, who was attacked on a walk and died from his injuries. Celebrities and activists of all races ban together to fight hate in our communities.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"75965819","title":"Asian American communities stand up amid string of violent attacks","url":"/Nightline/video/asian-american-communities-stand-amid-string-violent-attacks-75965819"}