Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee said she was pepper-sprayed during a racist attack while in Los Angeles last month.
The Olympian shared details of the incident during an interview with PopSugar.
Lee said she was waiting for an Uber after a night out with her friends, all of Asian descent, when people in a car started yelling slurs like “ching chong” and telling them to “go back to where they came from.”
One of the passengers then sprayed the Olympian’s arm with pepper spray as the car left the scene.
Details of the where and when the attack took were not available, but Lee confirmed to CNN that the incident happened in October while the Olympian was in Los Angeles while filming “Dancing with the Stars.”
“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” she told the outlet.
Lee, the first Hmong American to go to the Olympics, captured the women’s all-around gold medal in Tokyo this year.
The incident involving Lee comes as attacks against Asians have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In September, a man suspected of yelling threats, spitting and yelling anti-Asian slurs at U.S. Olympic karate athlete 28-year-old Sakura Kokumai at a park in in Orange was charged with a hate crime.
That was one of several incidents that have received attention in recent months.
In Los Angeles County, anti-Asian hate crimes surged 76% in 2020, according to a report released in October by the county’s Commission on Human Relations.
More than three-quarters of the 44 anti-Asian hate crimes reported in L.A. County last year involved physical violence, according to the report.
Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that gathers data on racially motivated attacks related to the pandemic, got 9,081 incident reports between March 2020 and June 2021.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, expediting reviews of anti-Asian hate crimes.
Suggest a Correction