Man shouts racist slurs, hits woman in face after she sneezes while walking dog in East Vancouver


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Dakota Holmes says she was punched in the face several times while having racist slurs yelled at her by a large, white man after she sneezed while walking her dog Friday night.

The 27-year-old took her dog, Kato, to the park near St. Catherine’s Street and East 33 Avenue when her seasonal allergies flared up.

Then, a man in the park –who she’s never seen before and hadn’t really paid much attention to– came towards her.

“He just kind of approached me, told me ‘Go back to Asia,’ hit me in my face a couple times,” Holmes explains.

“He was saying all these racist slurs and everything about COVID. All this stuff. I was just confused, this happened so quickly. I was lucky to have my dog with me. He was very protective. He was able to stand ground in between me and the guy.”

During the assault, Dakota says she told the man she is not, in fact of Asian descent.

“He just kept telling me to go back to China I’m like, ‘Actually I’m Indigenous, I’m from here.’ He just didn’t care one bit,” she says.

The man –who she describes as white, 5’11” tall, and weighing over 200 lbs.– quickly left.

“He just kind of walked away pretty quickly, just left me on the ground. I was just shaken up a little bit.”

As an Indigenous woman, Holmes says she is painfully and intimately aware that discrimination, racism, and violence persist in the city.

“It’s sad to say that I’m used to these kind of actions. It’s not the first time I’ve been punched in the face, hopefully it’s the last time. But this kind of stuff is just another day. I’m an Indigenous woman who faces this stuff on a daily basis.”

Holmes says she called the Vancouver Police Department soon after the attack.

“I didn’t call right away which I regret now, they probably would’ve been able to catch the guy,” she notes.

“These two cops were very nice, reassuring, understanding, made sure I was okay.”

Holmes says she is satisfied with how the investigation is proceeding, and that her injuries didn’t require medical attention.

“It’s crazy. It might be weird to say but I’m glad it happened to me instead of someone else because I can take a couple hits and still walk away, whereas I’m sure if it was anyone else, it would have done a lot more damage and potentially could’ve knocked someone out.”

NEWS 1130 has reached out to the Vancouver Police Department.

Vancouver Police have said there has been an increase in reports of anti-Asian hate-motivated incidents and criminal acts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifteen hate crimes were reported to police in April. Eleven of those reports had an anti-Asian element.

So far in 2020, there have been a total of 20 anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police. In comparison, there were 12 in all of 2019.

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