Suni Lee Revealed She Was Pepper Sprayed In a Racist Attack

The Olympian revealed that she was recently the target of an anti-Asian hate crime.

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Suni Lee revealed she was the target of an anti-Asian racist attack. In an interview with Popsugar, the Olympic gold medalist opened up about the incident and how it caught her by surprise.

Lee recounted that while she and several other friends of Asian descent were waiting for an Uber after a night out, a car full of people drove by. Its occupants yelled racial slurs at the women, and one of the passengers fired pepper spray at them, hitting Lee on her arm. The car then sped away. (

Lee, 18, was left fuming. "I was so mad," she told Popsugar. "But there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off. 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."

Tragically, Lee is far from alone in being targeted because of her race. FBI data shows that throughout 2020, anti-Asian attacks rose by a whopping 73 percent, reports NBC News. It's an extremely disproportionate increase, as the rate of overall hate crimes has risen by 13 percent, according to NBC News. At the same time, racism against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI community has been prevalent for centuries, even if it's become worse throughout the pandemic. (

In May 2021, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law in an effort to make hate crimes easier for victims to report and for authorities to investigate. The law also authorizes the allocation of more local and state government resources toward the prevention and curbing of hate crimes. (

When Lee became the target of one of the crimes, she leaned on her support system, including her coach Jess Graba, according to her interview with Popsugar. She ultimately decided to share her experience publicly in hopes of making a difference by drawing attention to anti-Asian hate.

If you or someone you love has been the target of a hate crime, you aren't alone. For help, contact the National Center for Victims of Crime at 1-202-467-8700 and/or the FBI hate crimes unit at 1-202-324-3000.

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