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US Olympic athlete Sakura Kokumai targeted in racist attack

A man shouted racist slurs at American Olympic karate athlete Sakura Kokumai last week as she trained in a Southern California park, marking yet another incident amid a surge in hatred and anti-Asian discrimination.

The US team athlete and seven-time US national champion was at Grijalva Park in Orange, Calif., When the man started yelling at him. Parts of the interaction can be seen in videos posted to his Instagram page over the weekend.

“Don’t look at me behind my back. Stay away from me, ”the man can be heard screaming in one video. Kokumai can be heard asking, “What did I do?”

Kokumai, 28, told the station that at first she didn’t understand why she was being targeted. But then she heard him use racist slurs as he got into his car to leave.

“I was aware of the prevailing anti-Asian hatred. You see it almost every day on the news, ”she said. “But I didn’t think that would happen to me in a park where I usually go to workout,” she told KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

She wrote on Instagram that no spectators had stepped in to help her.

“I don’t know what was the worst: a stranger screaming and threatening to hurt me for no reason or people around me who saw it all and do nothing,” she said. “I was angry, frustrated, confused, scared, but I was also heartbroken to see and experience how people could be so cold… Please take care of each other. Pay attention to each other. “

She told KTLA that a woman approached her towards the end to ask if she was okay.

“But until then, as he walked shouting, there were people there, but they kind of stuck to them the whole time,” she said. “I thought, what if it was my grandmother or my mother?” That scares me.”

She told the station that she was still dealing with what had happened and had not reported the incident to the police.

Asian Americans have faced racist attacks and discrimination linked to the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year. Organizations tracking these incidents have indicated that it shows no signs of slowing down. As of March, Stop AAPI Hate had recorded nearly 4,000 reports of racist incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since last year.

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