A Los Angeles-based film director posted on social media that he was attacked by an unidentified individual while going to Starbucks in downtown LA on Tuesday morning.
Kevin Tsai, who works for Basewood Studios, was with his friend, Jeremy Jung, on March 16, when a man allegedly tackled him to the ground between 11:30 a.m. and noon around Main Street, the 23-year-old director told NextShark.
Tsai said the man charged at him from across the street while walking from Starbucks back to his studio.
“I didn’t even see him and he tackled me to the ground,” Tsai said.
Tsai described his attacker as a man in his 30s whom he believes to be Hispanic. He was wearing a black beanie, sweats and black gloves at the time of the incident, according to Tsai.
It took Jung a few seconds to process what he just witnessed because “it happened so fast,” said Tsai. After recovering from the initial attack, Tsai claims he got into a fistfight with the man.
“I entered fight or flight,” he continued. “We got up and started fighting because I have to defend myself. We’re throwing punches at each other and then, at a certain point, I realized he is a little bigger than me. I don’t think I could take on him by myself so Jeremy had to jump in.”
The two managed to pin the man to the ground while throwing punches at him. The man stopped attacking and allegedly began screaming xenophobic remarks at the victims, blaming them for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“… [he] was screaming things like ‘go back to your country’ and ‘the virus is your fault,’” Tsai claimed, adding that they got caught up in the heat of the moment and started calling the attacker a racist.
The man allegedly started following Tsai and Jung from a distance after the attack. One of the bystanders who witnessed the encounter offered them help by letting them enter his apartment building instead of going back to the studio.
“We were able to enter his building and just wait there,” he said. “I called a few people that I knew for protection and just waited there until they pulled up. From there, it’s pretty much over.”
Tsai described the incident as something “crazy” since the man was much bigger than the two of them.
He then noted the man “could’ve been carrying a weapon” when they got into the fight by the way he lifted his shirt.
“Luckily, it seems he didn’t have one on him, or he didn’t pull one out,” Tsai added. “But if he had a weapon, I could very much be dead, and if I didn’t defend myself, I could’ve been injured more. So I’m just glad that everybody is safe.”
Tsai later said he realized afterward that the man was just showing up his tattoos.
“I thought he had a gun or a knife on him and that’s when I distanced myself because that’s just beyond not worth it,” he continued.
Tsai has been active in raising awareness of the growing number of anti-Asian hate crimes in the country, and he never thought he’d be on the receiving end of such attacks.
Tsai said many people expressed concern by checking up on him in his studio after posting what happened on social media. Some community members even initiated a patrol in the area to look for the attacker.
He added that they never reported the incident to the police as they could handle it on their own.
“I don’t want this incident to contribute to more racial division,” he said. “I don’t want his race to be generalizing the whole group as well. I know that him, as an individual, his motives were racially-charged, but I don’t want to put more division in the Black and Brown and the Asian community.”
Feature Image via Kevin Tsai