Editor’s Note: This story contains language that some readers might find offensive.
DELRAY BEACH – Xenophobic sentiment and discrimination over the COVID-19 pandemic across the country surfaced this month in Delray Beach when three men insulted a restaurant owner with anti-Asian comments the owner recorded on video.
Louis Grayson, of Asian descent and owner of Ramen Lab Eatery at 25 Northeast Second Ave., recorded the video after the three men refused to leave the outdoor dining room as Grayson attempted to shut down for the night of July 15 .
The men attempted to sit in the outdoor seating of the restaurant and eat pizza, but Grayson told the men the restaurant was closing and that they should leave.
The men did not want to leave and an argument escalated with several anti-Asian slurs directed at Grayson, who felt uncomfortable enough to start recording a video.
This enraged the men even more, who continued with a swearing rant against Grayson.
“Take your fucking Chinese flu and stick it in your ass,” one man said, according to the video. “I hope you fucking die corona.”
The restaurateur’s Facebook post went around the world
Grayson posted the video on Facebook with the words, “We respect and love everyone, but it’s hard to understand. We will NEVER tolerate it and we hope that justice will be served to these people.”
Grayson said he tried to get the men to move peacefully, but started filming the incident because it was starting to get out of hand.
“Usually, I’m not too confused by this,” Grayson said. “I grew up with stuff like that. But it was at a point where I was like, ‘OK, you don’t want to go? Then I’ll record you saying it all. It was very frustrating. I was very angry at the time.
The post was immediately circulated around the world, with many reaching out in support of him and his business.
“I am overwhelmed and shocked at (the support),” Grayson said. “I have received about 100 emails from all over the state and around the world.
“We have local guys come over and say, ‘Hey, we don’t tolerate this, and we want you to know that we are here to support you. I have people calling me and saying, ‘Well done’ and ‘I’m sorry you had to deal with this. It was all very unexpected.
Grayson, 30, is the son of Thai immigrants who opened a series of local Thai and sushi restaurants. Over the past five years, Grayson helped develop his family’s restaurant group in more hip concepts like the three Ramen Lab Eatery restaurants it has in Palm Beach County – West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton. The Delray Beach Restaurant is located in the Pineapple Grove area.
No police investigation, but the city condemns the incident
As the coronavirus first seen in China continues to escalate in the United States, Asian Americans face hatred and many film their interactions or carry guns. Sharing the videos is a way for them to fight racist bullying and harassment.
“We get it from time to time,” Grayson said of the racist remarks. “It certainly increased during the coronavirus pandemic, for at least the first month or two. It was little jokes here and there. “This place has a crown” or “Can we eat this?” We let him go and continued. They were just ignorant people.
Boynton Beach Deputy Mayor Ty Penserga is a local leader who has been outspoken about the rhetoric leveled against Asian Americans.
Penserga, born in the Philippines, is currently Palm Beach County’s only elected official of Asian descent.
“We are considered the punching bag,” Penserga said in a recent interview with The Palm Beach Post. “We are the ones that no one is afraid of. We are the ones who don’t fight back. That’s what I want this to change. People need to know that we will fight back and that we are a political force to be reckoned with. “
Delray Beach Police said there was no ongoing investigation and no charges would be laid, but Acting City Manager Jennifer Alvarez condemned the actions and the language.
“The hatred, ugliness and contempt for common decency displayed by these two men outside of the Delray Beach Ramen Lab are the exact opposite of the core values of inclusiveness and diversity that are at the heart of the Delray Beach community. “Alvarez said in a writing. declaration.
“As Interim City Manager of Delray Beach, I condemn their actions and language, reject their hatred and support the staff at Ramen Lab, who have shown grace in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation.
UN report details “alarming level” of incidents against Asian Americans
In 2020, the United Nations published a report who detailed “an alarming level” of racially motivated violence and other hateful incidents against Asian Americans.
While the situation in Delray Beach has not escalated into violence, other incidents across the country have:
- The shootings at three Atlanta spas that killed eight, including six women of Asian descent. Robert Aaron Long, 21, faces eight counts of first degree murder, but authorities have not filed hate crime charges against him.
- New York Police arrested a man this week for brutally stepping on a 65-year-old Filipina in an assault widely seen on social media. Brandon Elliott, on parole for the murder of his mother, reportedly told his victim: “You are out of place here” during the attack.
- In January, an 84-year-old Thai native who was walking in his San Francisco neighborhood in the morning was pushed from behind by a galloping man and died of his injuries after hitting the sidewalk. A 19-year-old man has been charged in this case.
Grayson said he didn’t want violence and didn’t want to present the world as an us versus them situation.
“I don’t want to ruin his life,” Grayson said of the man who talks the most. “That’s never my intention. I just wanted him to know that you should never be able to say this to anyone, or never think it’s OK to say. It was really dehumanizing to me.