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Racially charged assault against 81 year-old man investigated as a possible hate crime

An elderly Asian man was assaulted on Dec.17 during a morning walk in southeast San Diego and the San Diego Police Department is investigating the assault as a possible hate crime.
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An elderly Asian man was assaulted on Dec.17 during a morning walk in southeast San Diego and the San Diego Police Department is investigating the assault as a possible hate crime. 

Mark Sonouvong, 81, was hospitalized from the assault which took place in the Lincoln Park Neighborhood on Imperial Avenue near Escuela Street. According to authorities, the victim was assaulted without provocation 

The victim’s brother-in-law Dennis Lambert publicly said the attacker inquired about the victim’s nationality. Sonouvong was knocked to the ground and beaten by the attacker, who is described as a transient man. Lambert said Sonouvong suffered many injuries. 

As a response to the uptick of racially motivated crimes against Asian Americans, San Diego’s Asian Pacific Islander Initiative is working to create a rapid response action plan to collect data, better educate communities on these issues and provide resources. Through this rapid action plan, local governments, businesses and media will be engaged to prepare San Diego communities to be safe. 

JoAnn Fields, Government and Public Relations Director for API Initiative, is spearheading this effort, which is currently in its early stages. Fields said the API initiative is working with the San Diego District Attorney’s office to trigger victim support services if needed. 

Thousands of Asian Americans in the United States have been victimized by hate crime since the beginning of COVID-19 which originated in the region of Wuhan in eastern China. Xenophobic rhetoric have been used by former president Donald Trump, politicians and media commenters in referencing COVID-19. 

According to Stop AAPI Hate, there are over 10,000 reported hate incidents against Asian and Pacific Islander people since March 2020 through September 2021. Stop AAPI hate is a nonprofit coalition that tracks and  addresses anti-Asian racism throughout the United States. 

Members of the public may learn more about the investigation through the API Initiative webpage as further updates are received. 

According to the city of San Diego, hate crimes should be reported the same way other crimes are reported. Members of the public should call 9-1-1 if there is a crime in progress, medical assistance is needed, or there is serious personal injury or property damage. If it is not an emergency, report the hate crime by calling (619) 531-2000.