ARCADIA, Calif. —  It has been just over a year since Tanny Jiraprapasuke set foot on the Arcadia train station. The last time she was there was February 1, 2020, a date now seared in her memory. 

What You Need To Know

  • On February 1, 2020, Tanny Jiraprapasuke was on the train when a man began verbally assaulting her for being Asian

  • No one on the train did anything to help

  • A week ago, an Asian man in Jiraprapasuke's neighborhood was chased by a person wielding an axe

  • According to recent study by Cal State San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian-Americans in Los Angeles more than doubled last year

It was just a few days after the first two cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in Southern California and Jiraprapasuke was returning home after a night out with a friend. That is when a man got on the train and began verbally assaulting her.

“He stood there and he started talking about Chinese people and how dirty Chinese people are and really blaming China for the coronavirus,” she recalled.

After a few minutes, Jiraprapasuke pulled out her phone and began recording. It was the first time, she said, she had ever experienced blatant racism up close.

"Every disease has ever came from China, homie. Everything comes from China because they're f****** disgusting," the man can be heard saying in the video. "They can be so smart and be like, 'Oh yeah, I developed this, I developed that.' But like yeah, you can't even wipe your a**."

Jiraprapasuke is not even Chinese. She’s Thai-American.

“He started escalating,” she said. “It was almost as if we were all his captive audience. I couldn’t do anything but just sit there."

No one on the train did anything to help. It was at that moment she worried for her life.

“I even looked around and made eye contact, no one connected with me,” she said.

The man eventually got off the train, and Jiraprapasuke was able to return home unscathed — or so she thought.

A week ago, a person wielding an axe chased an Asian man in her neighborhood. Hearing about it, sent Jiraprapasuke tight back to that night on the train. 

“He really took away my freedom,” she said choking back tears. “There’s a lot of talk about freedom, but when I walk outside my house without worrying about the danger of what my body can bring that to me is a betrayal because I love this country. I love it for its freedom. And in that moment, what he literally was saying was, ‘No, it’s not ok to be who you are.’”

According to recent study by Cal State San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian-Americans in Los Angeles more than doubled last year.

Jiraprapasuke is one of several survivors who spoke at Saturday’s “Love Our Communities: Stop Asian Hate” rally in Little Tokyo. She was a bit nervous, but she hoped that coming forward would make a difference.

“I want the next generation to be able to dream and say, ‘Yeah I can be president one day.’ Why not? These are things that I couldn’t dream of,” she said.