A man on a bicycle approached Matthew Leung, who is Asian-American, at a bus stop in Rosemead, a suburb of Los Angeles, just after 1 p.m. They exchanged hellos, but about 10 minutes later, the man, unprovoked, attacked Leung, said May Cun, Leung’s colleague at Gates Street Elementary School.
Leung shielded his face with his hands during the attack and then he blacked out, Cun told CNN. A passerby found Leung bleeding on the ground and called for help.
“So when I go to the hospital the doctors see it and say oh no…so they cut it off,” Leung told KABC.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department does not have a suspect description, but the assault is under investigation. It’s not clear if race was a factor in the attack, the sheriff’s department said.
Rowena Quijano, who also works with Leung, said she doesn’t know if race played a role.
“We just wanted to bring awareness to this so that everyone is aware and we could watch out for each other,” Quijano said.
When Leung was a teenager, according to Cun, he was trying to catch a bus when he was hit by a car. That accident left him with slurred speech, a limp and seizures, she said. Leung now uses a cane to walk, she said.
“I’m just astounded by the amount of love and support he’s receiving and the power of social media,” Cun said. “I’m just speechless.”
The outpouring is a reflection of Leung’s decades of dedication to the school, where he works with transitional kindergarten students, Quijano said.
“He’s so loved,” she said. “He’s such a kind, friendly, gentle, humble person. Yes, it’s unfortunate that this happened, but he has touched so many lives. So many former students remember him, based on the comments on the GoFundMe site.”
The last few weeks have seen a string of attacks against Asian and Asian-American people, though police have not confirmed that race has played a role in the assaults.
Stop AAPI Hate began collecting reports of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans in March 2020. Through the end of the year they received more than 2,800 firsthand reports of anti-Asian hate.
Other organizations have seen similar spikes.
From 2017 to 2019, the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice received less than 500 reported instances of hate against Asian Americans. But from February to December last year, there were about 3,000 incidents of hate cataloged by the group and others, they estimated.
CNN’s Harmeet Kaur contributed to this report.
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