by Akemi Tamanaha, Associate Editor
Over a hundred people gathered in San Francisco’s Anza Vista neighborhood to celebrate a street renaming in honor of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an elderly Asian man who was killed in early 2021.
On January 28, 2021, Ratanapakdee was taking his morning walk in Anza Vista when he was forcefully shoved to the ground. His head struck the pavement as he fell. The 84-year-old Thai grandfather was taken to the hospital where he died of injuries.
Ratanapakdee’s family members and community leaders have been working with San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani to rename a street in the neighborhood where Ratanapakdee used to take his walks. Supervisor Stefani represents District 2, which encompasses Anza Vista, and introduced the resolution to rename the street Sonora Lane as “Vicha Ratanapakdee Lane.” The resolution passed unanimously earlier this year.
The street sign was installed last week but was officially unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday, October 1. Buddhist monks were present to bless the sign. Ratanapakdee’s daughter Monthanus spoke at the ceremony’s opening, thanking the community for the support and honoring her father’s memory.
“Father, we miss you every day, and I know you love me and your grandsons,” Monthanus said at the ceremony.
“Your death will not be in vain,” she added. “Even in passing, your life will inspire others.”
Several notable community members attended the event including Nobel Prize nominee Amanda Nguyen, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu and renowned actor Daniel Dae Kim. Kim has been a vocal advocate in the Stop AAPI Hate movement since the start of the pandemic.
“Now every single person who walks or rides or drives downs this street, or takes walks just like Vicha did, will say the name Vicha Ratanapakdee,” Kim said at the ceremony. “And with every utterance, we will remember. We will remember his life, his contribution and our community’s strength.”
“For all of those beautiful things, we say thank you to Grandpa Vicha.”
Vanita Louie, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Commissioner and a resident of Anza Vista for over 50 years, presented Monthanus and her family with their own “Vicha Ratanapakdee Lane” sign.
“They can’t come out to look at the sign when it’s cold and dark, so they can hang this inside their room,” Louie said.
Community leaders acknowledged that there is still much work to be done to stop anti-Asian hate. But, advocacy efforts from AAPI youth have offered the community glimpses of hope. Monthanus praised the future generation, inviting youths who attended the ceremony up onto the stage with her.
“I’m so proud to see young people standing with us, and I see young courage,” she said. “I see how you speak out for Asian American equality, and you are the reason I have hope.”
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