Safety concerns were rising among Chinese students after a Chinese woman was brutally beaten in an possible hate crime last week in Tempe, Arizona.
Xiaolin Shi, an undergraduate at Arizona State University, said she was assaulted by a white woman on a train on the way home between 10:30 pm and 11 pm on May 20.
Kalie Rutledge, 22, began yelling slurs like "Bitch, go f---ing back to China" to Shi and her friend after they got on the train and talked in Chinese, Shi told China Daily.
She said the suspect aggressively approached them and continued berating them for a while. As they were about to get off the train at their stop, the suspect came at them and punched Shi in the face.
"I lost consciousness for a few seconds, and then I found myself on the ground with blood all over my face," Shi said. Her friend was also attacked but didn't sustain serious injuries.
Shi had a broken bone in her face and swelling to her eye. She said the doctor told her surgery might be necessary, though she was currently in stable condition.
The suspect was arrested by Tempe police that night on a charge of aggravated assault and then booked into Maricopa County Jail. According to Maricopa County court documents, Rutledge was released after an initial appearance on May 24, and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on May 31.
According to the website jail.com, Rutledge was arrested at least 10 times previously on charges including criminal damage, drug paraphernalia use or possession, disorderly conduct and violation of probation.
"It was 100 percent racial hatred, no other reason," said Shi. "I don't know her (Rutledge). I've never met her before."
Four months ago in Tempe, another Chinese girl, Yue Jiang, also an international student at Arizona State, was shot dead by a white woman whose car bumped hers while Jiang was driving home from a shopping trip with her boyfriend.
No trial date has been set for Holly Davis, 32, the suspect in Jiang's case, said Rebecca Wilder, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County District Attorney's office, who declined to comment on both cases, saying they were pending.
Though police tried to ease fears among Chinese students telling them that Jiang's case was a "random act of violence", safety has been a top concern since the shooting.
"At least for a long while, we had been very cautious. Many students talked about buying a gun for protection," said Kevin Cheng, a Chinese student at Arizona State. "The local Chinese set up a group on WeChat. Sometimes they give lectures on using firearms."
He said racial tension was not rare where he lived, and he had similar experiences on campus, on the train and while attending an NBA game.
"We wish we could do something to change it, but unfortunately, it seems there's little we can do but rally to make our voice heard," Cheng said. "We are talking about a rally at the court when Jiang's killer stands trial."
To Christine Liu, a Chinese student at Arizona State who lived close to the location where Jiang was killed, there was not blatant racial prejudice.
"But I can feel the sense of hostility against Asians," she said.
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