Anti-Asian slur spray-painted on couple’s car while they were at movie, Georgia cops say

A Georgia couple’s night at the movies was soured after they returned to find an anti-Asian slur scrawled across their car.

Sonethida Siharath and her husband Lammone Bounphengsy contacted police after making the discovery last week as they left the Movie Tavern in Suwanee, about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta.

“We finished the movie and came out around 9:59. Got in the car,” Bounphengsy told FOX 5 of the Feb. 26 incident. “It was foggy that night. We got in and I saw someone spray-painted the car, so I got back out.”

Police responded to a report of property damage in the theater’s parking lot shortly after 10 p.m., according to a police report obtained by McClatchy News. The couple told officers they were inside the movies and came out to find someone had spray-painted their blue Nissan Altima with the word “c—k,” a racial slur typically directed at Chinese Americans.

A witness told police the suspects were wearing all black clothing and a black face mask before fleeing in an older model white four-door sedan, according to a news release.

Siharath and Bounphengsy, who’ve lived in Suwanee for more than 20 years, said they don’t know who would want to target them or why.

“I don’t have problems with nobody, my husband doesn’t have problems with nobody,” Siharath told WGCL-TV. “I’ve been here in Atlanta for 20-plus years, a schoolteacher, and I’ve never [had] someone call me that name before. So, it’s kind of brand new, shocking.”

She said the incident has left her “scared for her life” and her children’s, but refuses to let anyone intimidate her, FOX 5 reported.

“I’m not going to let them bully me,” Siharath said, according to WGCL-TV.

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Rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

The incident comes amid a wave of hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans, a trend spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent report by California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that hate-fueled crimes against Asian-Americans spiked nearly 150% in 16 of the nation’s most populous cities in 2020.

“While most cities experienced overall hate crime declines, including attacks against groups that had recently spiked like Jews, attacks against Asians rose materially in most cities, and only declined in one — Washington, D.C.,” Brian Levin, executive director for the center, told Voice of America.

Advocates in the Asian-American community also pointed to statements by former President Donald Trump — who routinely referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” — for the uptick in anti-Asian attacks.

Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks hate crimes against Asian American Pacific Islander communities, said it received over 2,800 reports of hate incidents between mid-March and December 2020. Among those, 32 incidents were reported in Georgia.

The reported incidents included vandalism, physical assault, harassment, and being coughed or spat upon, the group said.

Anyone with information on the incident in Suwanee is asked to contact the police department at 770-904-7627.