Stranger Randomly Punches Woman in Face in Chinatown

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A D.C. woman is searching for a good Samaritan who helped her after a stranger punched her in the face in Chinatown.

Catherine Xu said she was waiting to cross the street at Eighth and H streets NW on Memorial Day when someone struck her. She had looked down at her phone for a moment.

“All of a sudden, I just feel like an impact to my face. Someone had run up and punched me out of nowhere,” she said.

Xu said a man jumped in to help her and chased the attacker away so she could get to safety.

She said she went to urgent care afterward. She didn’t have any visible bruises, but her jaw hurt so much she couldn’t eat solid food for a day, she said.

Xu called the attack jarring but not surprising, given a recent rise in violence against Asian Americans seen nationally.

“I’ve spent the past year-and-a-half or so, ever since the Atlanta shooting, just not really feeling safe anywhere,” she said.

Xu said she was thankful to the man who helped her.

“I’m really glad the bystander stepped in. That made a world of difference. I don’t know what would have happened if there wasn’t any intervention,” she said.

Making a difference during an attack is a goal of the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC). It holds free online classes teaching people what to do when they see harassment.

“This is what we need to do. We need more people to know how to interact, how to intervene, do it safely,” Marita Etcubañez of AAJC said.

More than 100,000 people have taken the class so far.

“There are a lot of indirect ways that we can intervene that are relatively low-risk to the person intervening, like cause a distraction to disrupt the harassment,” Etcubañez said.

As for Xu’s case, police told News4 they’re investigating. It is not being investigated as a hate crime, D.C. police said.

She said she looks forward to hopefully meeting her good Samaritan soon.

“At least feeling like I’m not alone out there is a little helpful,” she said. “That restores my faith in humanity a little bit.”

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