A person riding a bike is wanted for what law enforcement is calling a racially motivated assault. It happened August 21st just before 3:00 pm at the intersection SW 2nd Avenue and Pine in downtown Portland.
The Portland Police Bureau released a photo of the suspect on Monday (9/4), along with a $2,500 cash reward for any information that leads to an arrest. The photo shows a bike rider on a flat-bar road bike with a bag in its front rack and the person is wearing a large backpack — the type typically used by delivery riders.
According to the PPB, the bike rider spat on and physically assaulted a group of people who are Asian. One of them was Tommy Ly, owner of a nearby business. Here’s what Ly told KGW:
… he and his family were walking in a crosswalk when the man on a bike “came barreling down” and almost hit his mom. He told the man to watch out and that’s when the situation escalated.
“He turned back around and just started yelling racial slurs at us… stuff I don’t really want to repeat anymore,” Ly told KGW in an interview after the assault.
Ly also said that the man flicked a burning cigarette at his mom and threw a punch at him. He said that’s when he warned the man that he was armed with mace.
“He just biked back around, got close to my mom and spit in her face and at that point I just lost it, and just grabbed my mace and emptied the whole can straight into his face and then he just biked off,” Ly said.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time our community has confronted anti-Asian bias.
In 2020, a bike shop owner in Hood River apologized after he posted anti-Asian sentiment on Instagram related to the coronavirus outbreak. In 2022, Portland Police said that racial bias was behind an assault of a Japanese family bicycling on the Eastbank Esplanade. And just this week a man was charged with stabbing two teens on a MAX train allegedly, “because of his perception of the victims’ race.”
A report published by the nonprofit Community Cycling Center last week found that among some east Portlanders, “people of color felt especially unsafe while biking due to concerns of racism and race-based violence, from individuals or police officers.” And the City of Portland’s latest Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan cited a fear of traveling in public by students and families of color as one reason some people don’t choose to walk, bike, or take transit.
If you know the identity of the bike rider in the photo above, you can contact the PPB non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333 or share your tip anonymously online via CrimeStoppers.