Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee said she was pepper-sprayed in what she calls a racist attack last month while she was with a group of friends in Los Angeles.
According to multiple media reports, Lee, an American gymnast and the first Hmong-American to represent the United States in the Olympics, told the PopSugar website she was waiting for a ride with friends when a car drove by them and people shouted racial slurs.
Lee, who is a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” and was with friends all of Asian descent, said one of the passengers in the car sprayed her arm with pepper spray before driving away.
“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” Lee told PopSugar as part of a cover story on the gymnast. “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.”
The Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate website reports anti-Asian incidents have been on the rise sharply in the United States since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data compiled by Stop AAPI Hate, more than 9,000 reports of racially motivated attacks have been made from March 19, 2020, to June 2021.
Lee, 18, won the Olympic gold medal in the individual all-around at the Tokyo Olympics over the summer.