American gymnast Suni Lee, an Olympic gold medal winner and the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics, said she was pepper-sprayed in a racist incident while in Los Angeles for her stint on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Lee was waiting for a ride after a night out with a group of girlfriends who were all of Asian descent, she told PopSugar in an interview.
She said a car drove by and the people in it started shouting racist slurs like “ching chong,” and telling the girls to “go back to where they came from,” according to the article.
Then, one of the passengers sprayed her arm with pepper spray before the car took off, Lee said.
Lee confirmed to CNN that the incident happened in October.
“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” Lee told PopSugar.
“I didn’t do anything to them, and having the reputation, it’s so hard because I didn’t want to do anything that could get me into trouble. I just let it happen.”
Attacks against Asian Americans have skyrocketed during the pandemic. A coalition that tracks racism and discrimination against Asian Americans said there were at least 4,533 incidents reported in the first six months of this year.
More than 9,000 incidents were reported to the coalition, Stop AAPI Hate, from March 19, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.