Koreatown attack against 27-year-old Asian American Air Force veteran being investigated as hate crime

Local news

A 27-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran says he was in Koreatown last week when two men made racist comments towards him then swung at him, causing him to fall to the ground.

Denny Kim, a South Los Angeles resident, said the men hurled several anti-Asian slurs at him and called him “Chinese virus.”

“Just all sorts of nasty things,” Kim said.

Around 8:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Kim was on his way to meet a friend for dinner near Kenmore Avenue and Sixth Street when the incident took place.

“[It was] absolutely unprovoked. I didn’t know who these guys were,” Kim said.

His friend, Joseph Cha, says he witnessed the incident.

“When I was dropped off, I heard a bunch of screaming. I saw two suspects just beating him up,” Cha said.

“So that’s when I was screaming. When I say that I was screaming, I was actually chasing them,” he explained. “They had seen my presence and they were scared.

Cha said the men also used racist slurs and profanity against him and told him to mind his own business.

“And they said ‘all f—ing Asians gotta die,'” Cha said.

The two men then ran off. Kim was left with a black eye and injuries to his nose.

“If it wasn’t for my friend that saved my life, my friend Joseph Cha, I’d probably be in a hospital right now in a coma or even possibly dead,” Kim said.

Kim, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, was initially reluctant to report the crime.

“I’m used to it. Growing up here in Los Angeles, I experienced all sorts of racist comments,” he said. “And even throughout my experience and career in the Air Force, I experienced a lot of microaggressions.”

A rally was held in L.A.’s Chinatown last weekend to raise awareness about a number of recent hate crimes against Asian Americans. It was at the rally that Kim decided he had to speak up.

“It’s 2021. I feel like racism has gotten way too old at this point,” Kim said. “It’s just senseless. It breaks my heart because I don’t judge anybody based on their skin tone, their skin color.”

From March to October 2020, 245 incidents in L.A. County were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a center that collects data on hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“Not just the Asian community, but for all communities,” Cha said. “We’re all humans at the end of the day.”

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, one of the suspect’s was described as a Hispanic male, with a bald head, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing approximately 170 pounds and about 30-years-old.

The second suspect was described as a Hispanic male with brown hair, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing approximately 140 pounds and about 30-years-old.

The Los Angeles Police Department said Kim’s case is being investigated as a hate crime. The suspects remain outstanding and authorities are searching for surveillance video.

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