DC police have launched an investigation into a “suspected hate crime,” during which a man attacked a tea shop’s owner using pepper spray and shouting “COVID-19” and “Chinese tea” after entering the place in the Dupont Circle area on Tuesday morning.
Valley Brook Tea, where the incident took place, is located in the 2100 block of P Street, Northwest DC.
Yunhan Zhang, owner of the business, posted a surveillance video of what happened on Twitter.
“I got sprayed on my face, arm, cloth. Some got into my mouth. I was choking badly when I called 911. I’m not injured. However the burning has not stopped after hours,” Zhang wrote in the tweet.
A man can be seen walking into the tea shop and yelling “COVID-19” and “Chinese” in the video. He then tells Zhang to take his mask off. Zhang asks the suspect to leave but he refuses and uses a canister of pepper spray that he gets out of his backpack.
The suspect then ran away, and was last seen walking east on P Street, Northwest.
I don't know what to say anymore. This type of hate crime happened to us again. This morning(9:42), this person charged into our store shouting "Chinese" and "Covid-19", then attacked me with pepper spray. If you recognize him, please contact us or call 911. (starting 00:20) pic.twitter.com/dgG8FwHlWk
— Valley Brook Tea (@valleybrooktea) November 10, 2020
Zhang also shared photos of residue on his clothes in his following tweets.
“It seems we’re the only business that keeps getting harassed and attacked in this neighborhood. We cannot stay in business if this happens on a weekly/monthly basis. Please help us identify this individual,” Zhang tweeted.
This is the second time the tea shop owner has been attacked in recent months, according to Zhang. He says he was slapped in front of his business by a man who stole his belongings.
The shop is known for brewing leaves from China’s Fujian province, according to Eater DC.
MPD is working to identify the suspect.