Geoff Leong, a celebrity restaurateur based in London, England and owner of Dumplings’ Legend, experienced firsthand the racism brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic after his car tires were slashed.
Leong encountered the damage to his car on April 22 when he was about to drive with his children in Hackney, northeast London, according to Daily Mail
. The 43-year-old businessman linked the attack as retaliation for COVID-19.
“It’s possible that someone living locally who knows that I am of Chinese-heritage has seen me getting in and out of the vehicle and decided to stab the car tires as some sort of retaliation for coronavirus,” Leong said.
“No other car on the street was touched, just mine. I’ve reported the matter to the police as a potential hate crime and they have been out and taken photos of the damage.”
After the incident, Leong plastered messages on the car, saying, “Why? Who did this to a doctor’s car, 4x wheels stabbed!” and “How is my NHS doctor going to get to work today?” His wife, Marie-Claire, is an NHS doctor working in a COVID-19 ward at King’s Colleg Hospital in south London.
“That’s why I left all those messages over the car, I want them to know that they’ve basically hindered a doctor trying to save lives,” he said. “I want the wider community to know what they’ve done.”
Leong reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police last week, but a spokesperson said in its statement, “There have been no arrests at this stage.”
“I’ve lived in Britain since I was 10-years-old, I was schooled here,” Leong said. “The Chinese community have given a lot to this country, many nurses and doctors who work for the NHS have come from China or Hong Kong.”
“It is distressing for us to go through as a family. If there are people out in the community who have a grudge against me – or the Chinese community – and have done this then they need to be exposed.”
Leong is part of the COVID Anti-Racism Group, which is made up of British Chinese business leaders, councilors and former police officers. He was appointed last month to liaise between Scotland Yard and the South East Asian community.
“There has been growing anti-China racism since the pandemic took hold by people who hold China responsible for the spread of the virus,” Leong told Daily Mail.
He recalled some anti-Chinese racism attacks on several Asian people living in England including a woman who was pushed from her bike and told to take her virus back to China.
“The parents of an 11-year-old girl told us how their daughter was left out of activities at school in January and February because she ‘would give everyone the virus,’” he added.