Nov 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee says she was pepper-sprayed in racist attack

Sunisa Lee of Team USA with her gold medal after winning the Women's All-Around Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 29, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Team USA's Sunisa Lee with her gold medal after winning the Women's All-Around Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, in July. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

American Olympic gold medalist Sunisa "Suni" Lee revealed this week that she was pepper-sprayed in a racist attack in Los Angeles.

Details: Lee, the first Hmong American to compete at the Olympics, told PopSugar in an interview published Wednesday that a group in a car told the 18-year-old gymnast and her friends, all of Asian descent, to "go back to where they came from" and shouted other racist slurs at them as they waited for an Uber.

  • Someone sprayed Lee's arm with pepper spray before the car drove off, she told the magazine.
  • "I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off," said Lee, who's in LA to take part in "Dancing With the Stars."

The big picture: There's been a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. since the pandemic began.

  • Asian Americans have launched a series of safety campaigns in response, including daily patrols, self-defense programs and personal alarm distribution, Axios' Shawna Chen notes.

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