Jung Kim, the owner of Uptown Beauty Salon in Houston, Texas, was punched in the face multiple times by a customer during the incident on 17 March that was filmed on the shop’s surveillance camera.
Ms Kim’s son, Sungjun Lee, told Click2Houston that the altercation occurred after his mother asked five women to leave his store when they knocked over multiple wig displays.
“They started saying something like some racial words like, ‘Asian people shouldn’t be in the Black market,’” Mr Lee said about the incident.
Video footage from the shop shows the women then knocking over several more wig displays, before one of them, Keaundra Young, 24, appears to confront Ms Kim, allegedly punching her eight times.
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Mr Lee then claimed that another woman, Daquiesha Williams, 22, scratched his face during the encounter, before Ms Young nearly ran him over in the car park.
“We never thought this would happen to us,” Mr Lee told Click2Houston, adding: “All of my customers are nice to us. We are nice to them. We have a good environment here and a good experience here.”
Following the incident, Ms Young was charged by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection to the alleged incident with her car. She was released on a $40,000 (£29,142) bond and is scheduled to appear in court in June.
Ms Williams was also charged with assault for the incident inside of the store, but is no longer in custody after making bail.
Jodi Silva, the district attorney’s public information officer, told The Houston Chronicle that hate crime investigators decided to look into the incident on Wednesday following a rise in violence against Asian-Americans over the last 12 months.
Ms Silva confirmed that the incident was not initially investigated as a hate crime as patrol officers did not include the racial slurs in the incident report, saying that it “may have been an oversight.”
Since March 2020, nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based reporting centre for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with 68 per cent of the incidents recorded against Asian women.
The United Nations also expects to have recorded a significant rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the US over the past 12 months, with the anti-China rhetoric of former president Donald Trump and other Republicans in relation to the coronavirus pandemic being blamed by many experts.
Mr Lee told the Chronicle that his family believes the incident was racially motivated, as he said that during it “they say a lot of racial words like, ‘F***ing Asians, f***ing b— Asians’ to my mom and to us.”
He confirmed that his mother will require surgery, saying that her face still hurts from the injuries sustained during the incident.
Mr Lee said that the family has now hired a security guard for the store during business hours, adding to the Chronicle: “We’re not in a dangerous field, but we don’t feel safe anymore. It’s really sad.”
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