On December 17, 2020, at around 5 am, racist vandalism occurred in California at the Japanese Sushi restaurant, Umai Bar & Grill in Elk Grove. When Feng Liang, the co-owner of Umai Bar & Grill, arrived at her restaurant that morning, she saw anti-Asian graffiti on the windows, garbage on the floor, and sprayed paint on the entrance. The graffiti had the word “gook,” which is a derogatory slur that insults Southeast Asians of Vietnamese, Philippine, Korean, and Chinese descent. At around 8:30 pm the same day, the Elk Grove Police arrested the 43-years-old suspect Lahn Hansen after viewing the surveillance footage from the Japanese restaurant that captured him vandalizing. During the investigation, the police found evidence in Hansen’s vehicle that links him to the vandalism. They also found items that connected Hansen to other crimes like a previous church burglary. Hansen has been put in the Sacramento County Main Jail under multiple charges, including hate crime.
On top of the financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Liang spent about $500 buying cleaning products to clean up the mess. Many supportive customers and residents helped clean and brought pressure washers, detergent, and acetone. With support from the community members, Liang finished cleaning and opened the restaurant for business. Liang said, “I am just so fortunate to have a business out in (Sheldon), where everybody takes care of each other.” Bobbie Singh-Allen, the Elk Grove mayor, gave no tolerance to the unacceptable act of racism and announced, “Let’s unite and say no to hateful attacks like this.”
“It just terrifies you, like what kind of people could do something like that in this time of year? When we're battling with COVID, battling with just staying open and keeping employees, right? And to see it like that, it makes you really disappointed, just disappointed in people in general," Liang spoke. The racist vandalism is hurtful to the people and businesses in the Asian community. The STOP AAPI Hate reported that in the first five months of the pandemic, there were about 2,500 hundred Asian hate cases nationwide, mostly incorporating racial slurs. It also pinpointed that more politicians are using xenophobic phrases like “Chinese virus.” Anti-Asian racism is an increasing issue, especially during the pandemic, that impacts the emotional health of Asians. People should stay together and fight racism by supporting victims who experienced it, as well as inform others about racist incidents and their impacts.