A San Francisco street was renamed on Saturday after Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Asian man who was fatally shoved last year and whose image helped galvanize the Stop Asian Hate movement.
Ratanapakdee, a Thai immigrant, was out for a morning walk along Anza Vista and Fortuna Avenues on Jan. 28, 2021, when an assailant appeared and pushed him to the ground. Ratanapakdee was found in a pool of his own blood before being rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later.
The incident, which was caught on video, led to the arrest of then-19-year-old Antoine Watson, who pleaded not guilty to murder and elder abuse charges. While the attack occurred at the height of pandemic-driven anti-Asian violence across the U.S., Watson was not charged with a hate crime.
Los Angeles-based designer and illustrator Jonathan D. Chang created a portrait out of a viral image of Ratanapakdee, which was later used in a mural by Thitiwat Phromratanapongse and Sarah Siskin. The mural is located at Grant Avenue and California Street in the San Francisco’s Chinatown.
At a ceremony on Saturday, Sonora Lane in the Richmond District was officially renamed Vicha Ratanapakdee Way.
Monthanus Ratanapakdee, one of Ratanapakdee’s children, said in a news release that it is “important to our family that we honor the memory of our beloved father. He has become a national symbol in the stop AAPI hate movement. The street name change to Vicha Ratanapakdee Way will remind future generations that violence against our AAPI elders has no place in our society.”
The former Sonora Lane was part of Ratanapakdee’s morning walks. The attack happened some two blocks from Terra Vista and Encanto Avenues, where Saturday’s ceremony was held.
Neighbors are still demanding change.
“He was just coming home from a morning walk on a day like today; heinous. It was a heinous attack. So this has got to stop,” Vanita Louie told KGO.
Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who is also part of President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI), was present at Saturday’s event.
“To me, it was because it happened to one of our most vulnerable: the elderly,” Kim said. “Mr. Ratanapakdee was a grandfather. He was a husband. He was a father. And simply, he was one of us.”