A woman captured a racist confrontation directed towards her on video in the parking lot of The Market Place in Tustin Sunday.
Hanna Li was shopping at Sephora when she says she asked another patron to keep distance from her amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“He wasn’t wearing a mask and the Sephora staff came to him and said, ‘Could you put on a mask if you shop in the store?’ And then he complied,” Li said. “But then he was not keeping social [distance] from me.”
Li asked staff to intervene to get the man to backup, and she says they told him to respect other people’s space. She thought that was the end of it.
But when she finished shopping and started walking to her car, she noticed the man in a Jeep nearby, along with a female passenger inside. Li ran to get inside her car because says she felt threatened.
“I had a feeling he was going to not say something nice. I took my phone ready for recording,” Li said.
Li says the man told her he was going to punch her in the face.
The recording begins with the man apparently in mid-sentence, saying, “To China. Why don’t you do that? Why don’t you stay at home?”
The man can then be seen quickly getting out of his vehicle and walking toward Li, saying, “You want to photograph me? Exactly, get in your car stupid…” He proceeds to call her a derogatory term.
Before driving away, the man can also be heard saying, “Thanks for giving my country COVID. Have a great day.”
Li posted the video on the Nextdoor website and it was reshared on multiple platforms. Users allegedly identified the man as an Irvine fitness trainer.
Many flooded the comments section, condemning his behavior and calling for a boycott of his business.
Tustin police are investigating the incident and told KTLA in a email, in part, that “hate speech and racist behavior … is not acceptable in any form and is always taken seriously. If we discover a crime has been committed we will follow up on these violations.”
Li says she was concerned sharing her story would compromise her safety but ultimately decided that staying silent would do more damage.
“I’m already prepared mentally for this kind of situation. It’s not the first time it happened to Asians,” she said. “Someday it has to come to an end. Keeping silent is not the way to deal with it.”
KTLA reached out to the man in the video but had not received a response Tuesday night.