GRF offers $5K reward for information in Leisure World hate crime

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Community members rallied to protest a racist and threateneing letter sent to a Leisure World widow shortly after her husband's funeral. Photo by David N. Young
Leisure World takes a stand against anti-Asian hate. Photo by Theo Andruss

 

Hundreds turn out to promote peace after anti-Asian letter is mailed to Leisure World widow

 

More than 200 people gathered at the main entrance to Leisure World on Wednesday, March 24 to show their support for a recent widow who received a racially charged letter from a neighbor.

 

On the day of the funeral for Byong Choi, his wife received the letter, which stated, “that makes it one less Asian to put up with in Leisure World. You frickin Asians are taking over our American community. Pack your bags and go back to your country where you belong!”

 

One of the Choi’s daughters intercepted the letter but did not it share it with her grieving 82-year-old mother. Instead, she turned it over to the Seal Beach Police Department, which is leading a multi-agency investigation into who sent it.

 

The Golden Rain Foundation, which manages the nearly 550-acre community of 9,000 people, has offered a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the letter’s author.

 

The Chois came to America from South Korea in 1970, settling in Indianapolis. They moved to Leisure World about a decade ago to be closer to their children. Byong Choi died on Feb. 24 at age 83. Shortly after his March 19 funeral, Sue Choi opened the letter, which was addressed to her mother.

 

Sue Choi urged the author to come forward. In a post on Nextdoor.com, she wrote, “If you are the author of the letter, please reach out to me. If you know or suspect you know the author, please urge them to contact me. The momentum of this story is a very bad outcome for you due to the national awareness of anti-Asian violence and the specific points of this situation. I truly believe racism needs to be addressed on a human scale, not media narrative.”

 

At Wednesday’s rally, people displayed signs and flags promoting peace and understanding for members of the Asian-America and Pacific Islanders community. The rally came a week after six Asians and two others were killed in three separate shootings in Atlanta. Thousands of cars passing the globe in front of Leisure World honked their horns in support of the rally.

 

Randy Ankeny, GRF executive director said in a written statement, “There exists a wake of violence against the Asian-American Pacific Islander community across the nation. In a recent report, the group STOP AAPI Hate cites over 3,700 anti-Asian hate incidents and, sadly, we have become part of this statistic. Falsehoods, racism and threats against the AAPI community, as well as all other individuals of varied beliefs and descents, must stop.

 

“As this is considered an Anti-Asian hate crime, actions are not only being taken by GRF and the Seal Beach Police Department. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Federal Investigators from the United States Postal Inspector’s Office are also involved to ensure all leads are being investigated.”

 

The GRF also issued a statement which read, in part, “As a community, we must be committed that acts of hate, racism, and intolerance against Asian American and Pacific Islanders will not be tolerated.  Through community unity, we must join together and ensure that the unspeakable act by a single individual, yet unknown, will never happen again. Uniting together, as a community of fellow shareholders, neighbors and friends, we can show the world we can live as one.”

 

The GRF has established a tip line at reporthate@lwsb.com, where information can be left anonymously. Seal Beach PD’s Jon Ainley the lead detective, can be contacted at (562) 799-4100, ext. 1113, or by email at jainley@sealbeachca.gov.