Amid the never-ending sad news that has taken over the news cycle comes an uplifting story. The San Francisco grandma who went viral for beating her attacker vowed to donate more than $900,000 toward combatting anti-Asian hate. Following her attack on March 17, Xio Zhen Xie’s family started a GoFundMe campaign in order to help her pay for her medical bills. While the goal was to raise $50,000, by Tuesday the campaign raised more than $919,000. But instead of keeping the money, the family announced on Monday that Xie wished to donate it all to the AAPI community.
“First of all, I would like to thank everyone that has donated and supported my family. Hate crimes towards Asians is nothing new. It has happened since the first Asian immigrants arrived in America. But during the pandemic, hate crimes towards the AAPI community have accelerated in an alarming rate,” Xie’s grandson John Chen wrote in an update posted to the campaign.
“The AAPI community is bleeding from this violence and hatred. We as a community cannot stay silent nor be silenced anymore. That is why our family plans to donate ALL funds generated in this GoFundMe to help the AAPI community recover, and combat racism,” Chen wrote.
Xie, a 75-year-old woman, went viral after fighting back her assailant during a violent attack in San Francisco. According to KPIX5, whom she spoke to through a translator, she was standing at a traffic light when a man approached her and punched her in the eye. Thinking quickly Xie fought back by picking up a wooden board nearby and hitting the man. Footage captured by KPIX5’s Dennis O’Donnell showed that Xie’s self-defense left the man with a bloodied face and he was handcuffed to a stretcher when officers took him away.
Additionally, witnesses told USA Today that when defending herself Xie yelled at the attacker in Chinese and said: You bum, why did you hit me?”
The incident quickly went viral with people sharing the footage on social media as “the Chinese grandma who fought back.” Xie’s attacker was later identified by the San Francisco Police Department as 39-year-old Steven Jenkins. According to a press release issued by the department, Jenkins had attacked another Asian American minutes before attacking Xie. That physical altercation with an 83-year-old man left him with injuries, police said.
According to jail records, Jenkins has been charged with two counts of assault likely to produce great bodily injury, two counts of battery with serious bodily injury, and two counts of elder abuse.
As a result of the attack, Xie was left with two serious black eyes—one which bled uncontrollably, according to Chen. In addition to the announcement on Monday, the family thanked supporters and gave an update on Xie’s condition since the attack on the GoFundMe campaign page. “When we visited our grandma yesterday and today her overall mental and physical health has improved. Her eye is no longer swelled to the point of not being able to open it. She is now starting to feel optimistic again and is in better spirits,” Chen shared.
He added that his grandmother, although afflicted with PTSD, “said we must not summit to racism and we must fight to the death if necessary. She also stated multiple times to donate all the funds generated in this GoFundMe back to the Asian American community to combat racism. She insists on making this decision saying this issue is bigger than Her.”
“This is my grandma, grandpa, and our family’s decision,” he added. “We hope everyone can understand our decision.”
The attack follows a string of attacks against the APPI community, especially the elderly since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In California alone, multiple cases have been reported resulting in volunteers coming together to escort elderly Asian community members in order to keep them safe. Data released by Stop AAPI Hate found that almost 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate were reported over the last year during the pandemic, a majority of which targeted both the elderly and women.