A former contestant on the Survivor reality TV franchise has been left bloodied and beaten after being stabbed and bashed with a metal stick in Santa Monica.
Michelle Yi, 37, who appeared in Survivor: Fiji in 2006, was on her way to give a pilates class just before 6am last Thursday when she was set upon by a homeless woman in what she believes was an anti-Asian hate crime.
“She was yelling all sorts of things like, ‘You stole my identity,’ and ‘You’re a prostitute,’” Ms Yi told People.
“Santa Monica has a homeless problem, and I’ve dealt with this type of thing before. So I told her, ‘Ma’am, you can’t be here. You need to leave.’”
Ms Yi tried to convince the woman to leave, but she says the woman attacked her with a knife and metal baton, stabbing her in the left arm and shattering her Apple watch with the stick.
Ms Yi said she was also struck in the head, and left covered in blood after the pre-dawn attack.
One of her pilates students called 911 and was told all of their operators were “currently busy”, but they managed to flag down a passing patrol car.
A Santa Monica Police Department said the suspect was arrested at the scene and has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Ms Yi was taken to hospital and received several stitches to a cut above her right eye.
Police confirmed the suspect, described as a white woman, had allegedly assaulted two other people that day, including an elderly Asian man and another person of colour. She has not been charged with a hate crime.
The Independent has approached Santa Monica PD to see if additional charges are likely.
“I can’t prove whether it was racially motivated or not, but she was screaming all sorts of awful things at me. The facts are what they are,” Ms Yi told People.
News of the attack on Ms Yi was first reported on Twitter by journalist Murtz Jaffer, who said it appeared to be an anti-Asian hate crime.
“It was really awful,” Ms Yi told the news site.
“Physically, I’m on the mend. Emotionally, it’s harder, but I should be OK.”
Hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent in the United States rose by 70 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year, the FBI said earlier this year.
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