Across the country, attacks against Asian Americans are increasing due to misconceptions associated with COVID-19. In the most recent incident reported, a father was left in a coma after being brutally attacked in Chinatown in Chicago, Illinois, last week. Identified as Jin Yut Lew, the 61-year-old man was visiting his relatives when he reportedly never returned home after.
His children then made a Facebook page to spread the word about their missing father. It wasn’t until days later that street cleaners allegedly found Lew lying on the ground on April 7 and took him to the hospital.
“As I go to get the sign, I was startled … I go, ‘Are you OK, buddy?’ And he rolled over, and I saw blood on his face,” Tommy Duddleston, who was removing street sweeping signs when he found Lew, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Duddleston is a ward superintendent who works for the Department of Streets and Sanitation.
Lew’s family believes he was carjacked, robbed, and brutally beaten.
As a result of the incident, Lew was diagnosed with severe brain trauma.
“He already had multiple brain surgeries. They had to do a craniotomy to decompress the brain because of brain bleeding,” Dr. Kim Yee, the spokesperson for the family, said according to ABC News. As of Sunday he remains in a coma and may have permanent brain damage.
“We just need to pray hard that Mr. Lew will wake up and speak to us and tell us what happened,” Yee said in another statement. “It’s about time we step up to do something immediately. Get this offender off the street immediately.”
Yee also noted that Lew was unidentified and left to die for more than a day until someone who saw his photo on social media recognized him and connected him to the family. His family was reunited with him two days after he went missing.
While it is not clear if the attack was racially motivated, the attack follows a string of attacks on AAPI community members in Chinatown specifically. According to data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 339% in 2021.
“Everyone’s fearful, and it doesn’t seem like it’s getting better,” Lew’s son said. “We need to wake up to that, and the city needs to get that under control. I grew up here. I know what it was like 30 years ago. The city is almost unrecognizable now.”
While xenophobia against the AAPI community is not a new phenomenon, the rate at which these crimes are increasing is more alarming with every data report released. Hate crime data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino found that hate crimes against Asian Americans surged in 2020 in at least 15 cities, Daily Kos reported. As the cities were further reviewed, a new report indicated that crimes against Asian Americans rose by 169% when comparing the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021.
As of Monday, no one was taken into custody in connection with the incident.
An online fundraiser to pay for Lew’s medical bills passed its $50,000 goal Thursday.
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