The new sign for Vicha Ratanapakdee Way.

San Francisco renames street in honor of Thai grandpa who was attacked and killed last year

The street is in the neighborhood where ‘Grandpa Vicha’ liked to take walks every morning

The new sign for Vicha Ratanapakdee Way.

@ratanapakdee Twitter

Words by Samantha Pak

The city of San Francisco has renamed a street in honor of an 84-year-old Thai man who was assaulted and killed last year.

City officials approved changing Sonora Lane to “Vicha Ratanapakdee Way” earlier this year and the new street sign was installed last week. An official unveiling ceremony, organized by Vicha Ratanapakdee’s family and supporters, was held Oct. 1.

“The first time we see the sign go up, we miss him, we miss him every day,” his daughter Monthanus Ratanapakdee told NBC Bay Area the day of the ceremony. “We want to do something for the community, a reminder and memory for grandpa, for the AAPI community.”

On Jan 28, 2021, Vicha Ratanapakdee was violently shoved while on a walk in San Francisco’s Anza Vista neighborhood. He hit his head on the pavement as he fell, was taken to the hospital and died shortly after that. According to the NBC Bay Area report, a 19-year-old (at the time) man was charged with murder and elder abuse for the crime and is expected in court this week.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a spike in anti-AAPI hate crimes—with many cases against elders in our community making national news—and Ratanapakdee’s murder became a rallying cry for the Asian American Pacific Islander community, not just for in the Bay Area, but nationwide.

As actor and activist Daniel Dae Kim put it during the ceremony, “it was because it happened to one of our most vulnerable, our elderly. Mr. Ratanapakdee was a grandfather, Mr. Ratanapakdee was a husband, he was a father and simply, he was one of us.”

Kim is right. Ratanapakdee could have been any of our parents or grandparents. And while all violence against the AAPI community (or any community) is horrible and needs to stop, attacks against elders like Vicha Ratanapakdee are particularly egregious. Not only are they among the most vulnerable physically, there can also be a language barrier for them, making it even harder for them to report these attacks to the authorities—if they report the incidents at all.

Vicha Ratanapakdee Way is in the Anza Vista neighborhood, where “Grandpa Vicha,” as he became known in the community, liked to take his morning walks every day. The street serves as a landmark for where he took his final walk—and hopefully, a teaching moment for passersby to learn more about Vicha Ratanapakdee and his life, as well as the anti-AAPI hate that has affected so many in our community.

Members of Vicha Ratanapakdee’s family and other supporters during the ceremony unveiling sign fo the street named after him.

@ratanapakdee Twitter

To learn more about him, visit

Published on October 4, 2022

Words by Samantha Pak

Samantha Pak (she/her) is an award-winning Cambodian American journalist from the Seattle area and assistant editor for JoySauce. She spends more time than she’ll admit shopping for books than actually reading them, and has made it her mission to show others how amazing Southeast Asian people are. Follow her on Twitter at @iam_sammi and on Instagram at @sammi.pak.