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Faces of DFEH

Read real-life stories about how DFEH is protecting and enforcing the civil rights of all Californians.


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DISCRIMINATION AND HATE IN A PUBLIC PLACE – UNRUH

Hong Lee

What was your experience that led you to seek out help from CRD?

In August 2020, I experienced a Hate Incident at a restaurant in Los Angeles. A man told me to go back to Asia followed by two minutes of hateful and derogatory words. I asked for help from the patrons and employees around me, but they really didn’t know what to do help and did the best they could do under the tense circumstances. After I shared the video of my incident, it went viral. Five other victims recognized the man who harassed me from my video and said they were also harassed by him. One of the cases involving him was escalated to the City Attorney’s office for review.

LA County’s LA vs. Hate initiative contacted me and I became the Ambassador for the initiative. With their help, I filed a case with CRD to help bring positive change to the restaurant and the way my incident was handled.

How did that experience affect you?

I had insomnia, PTSD and was afraid to go outside after my incident. I wanted to remove the video after I received hateful messages on social media, but at my moment of weakness, a second victim came forward to say she was also harassed by the same man. This gave me the strength to continue this advocacy journey. After I became the Ambassador for the LA vs. Hate initiative, I was also able to connect other victims of hate to help them access resources such as counseling, legal aid, etc. I became a partner with Asians American Advancing Justice and Stop AAPI Hate. I recently started Seniors Fight Back with a group of volunteers and we are now offering free self-defense classes to the community. I am also partnering with elected officials to offer more classes.

What do you want people to take away from your experience?

If you’re ever a victim to an act of hate, make sure you report the incident no matter if it is a hate crime or hate incident. Take action so that no one else ever has to experience what you went through. We recently learned from Stop AAPI Hate that most of these acts of hate are happening inside of businesses. Contact CRD if applicable and help the business establishment provide additional training to their staff.

What do you want people to know about discrimination based on race, age, gender orientation, national origin, or disability?

Discrimination and hate language are not acceptable in any environment whether it’s work or in a public place. Instead of making excuses to justify people’s actions, take action.

How was your experience with CRD?

I had a wonderful and positive experience with CRD. Angela Oh, a CRD mediator, was an incredible facilitator. As a result of my CRD case, and with the help of LA county, the restaurant provided free bystander intervention training to their team members and put posters of LA vs Hate in their establishment so people knew who to call if they ever experienced or witnessed a hate incident.


Communication Center: 800-884-1684 (voice), 800-700-2320 (TTY) or
California's Relay Service at 711 | contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov