SEATTLE — A GoFundMe page has been established for a Japanese-language teacher who is the victim of an apparent hate crime.
The incident, which was caught on surveillance video, is one of several anti-Asian assaults being reported nationwide.
“Noriko Nasu was attacked in Seattle’s International District on Thursday, Feb. 25,” writes Kristina DeLeo, a concerned citizen. “Knocked unconscious by a man wielding a rock in a sock, Ms. Nasu suffered multiple fractures to her nose, broken teeth, bruising and a concussion. Her partner, Mark Poffenbarger, was also injured in the attack, receiving multiple stitches for his wounds. This is being investigated as a racially motivated attack.
“A Japanese teacher at Inglemoor High School, a mother and an accomplished photographer, Ms. Nasu now faces a long road to recovery, including expensive dental work that is likely not covered by insurance.
“I do not personally know Ms. Nasu, but this unprovoked attack hit close to home. As a Northshore School District parent and a Japanese American, I am heavy-hearted by the rise in violence against Asians. Together with Chikako Misener, my son’s Japanese teacher at Bothell High School, I have taken a few moments to organize this fundraiser as a conduit for others to share their support.
“The beloved children’s show host Mr. Rogers once advised, in times of trouble, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.’
“If we each make a small contribution and share with our social circles, together we can be the helpers — we can be the light in Nasu-sensei’s moment of darkness.
“Thank you for your consideration. All proceeds will be given to Noriko Nasu to alleviate the burden of unforeseen expenses from this tragic incident.”
As of Thursday, more than $16,000 has been raised, and the original goal of $15,000 has been changed to $20,000. To make a contribution, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-inglemoor-hs-teacher-noriko-nasu
Police have identified the suspect as Sean Jeremy Holdip, 41, a former EMT who worked in New York City before he was apparently terminated from the job in 2014, according to Seattle TV station KOMO.
“I do definitely believe it was a hate crime,” Nasu told KOMO. “The suspect . . . came to Chinatown with a weapon in his pocket to look for victims. When he found me, as you can see (in) the video, he didn’t strike my boyfriend even though my boyfriend was between me and the suspect. He deliberately went around Michael to hit me first.”
According to a police report about the incident, Nasu was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured nose and several chipped teeth, while Poffenbarger suffered blows to his head, which required eight stitches.
“I truly believe he was trying to kill us,” Poffenbarger said. “He hit her so hard (and) he hit me really really hard. I was amazed at how hard he hit my head and it didn’t knock me out.”
“I felt the impact,” Nasu said. “The next thing I knew I was on the ground and I was suffocating in my my own blood in the mask. I couldn’t breathe.”
She said she saw the suspect staring at her as she parked her car. “As we were walking away from the car, I got hit in the face.”
She added, “My teeth don’t look the same anymore. I can’t eat using my front teeth ever again, I was told. I can’t smile.”
But at the same time, Nasu said, “I’m grateful I wasn’t hit where it was fatal.”
Gov. Jay Inslee condemned the attack last week. “Washington is a place where all people should feel safe and included. This is a welcoming state and I have a zero-tolerance policy for hate and racism. We must all condemn the acts of hate and violence displayed in the rising incidence of anti-Asian hate crimes in both Washington state and across the country. This is wholly unacceptable and must not stand.
“We saw this ugly trend surge a year ago, when COVID-19 first emerged in our state. One year later, we have a vaccine for the virus but racism is still running rampant.
“Victims deserve support and justice. There are systems in place to ensure offenders face consequences for their unconscionable actions. I encourage victims to come forward and report their experience to local law enforcement.
“I stand in solidarity with members of the Asian community who continue to experience fear and intimidation. They deserve better, and we must do everything in our power to make their safety and security a priority and to eliminate racism in Washington.”
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz issued a statement last Friday confirming that there has been a rise in reported hate crimes across the city.
“The Seattle Police Department has heard from residents, business owners, and community organizations across the Chinatown-International District and throughout our city. People are particularly fearful about an increase in crimes targeting the Asian community. We recently arrested a subject in a recent incident and continue to pursue leads in other cases.”
Rallies and marches are planned this weekend, beginning Saturday, March 13, at 3 p.m. at Hing Hay Park, 423 Maynard Ave. S., Seattle. The theme: “We Are Not Silent.”
Rallies are also scheduled for Sunday, March 14, at 12 p.m. at Maple Valley 4Corners on 23880 SE Kent Kangley Rd. and Monday, March 15, at 4:45 p.m. at Renton City Hall.