The Sunday Read: ‘Why Was Vicha Ratanapakdee Killed?’


Throughout 2020, multiple strangers came at Monthanus Ratanapakdee seemingly out of nowhere. An old man yelled at her in Golden Gate Park — something about a virus and going back to her country. When she discussed these incidents, her father would ask, “Is it really that bad?”

Her father, Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was a lifelong Buddhist, the kind of person who embraced the world with open arms. During the coronavirus pandemic, he usually left the house before 8 a.m. and made it back before his grandsons started their Zoom classes.

This year, on the morning of Jan. 28, he headed out. A surveillance video captured what happened next. A tall figure suddenly darts across a street and slams into a much smaller one; the smaller figure crumples onto the pavement and doesn’t get back up.

Mr. Ratanapakdee’s death helped awaken the nation to a rise in anti-Asian violence. For his grieving family, the reckoning hasn’t gone far enough.

This story was written by Jaeah Lee and recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.

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