Despite the increasing awareness of attacks on Asian Americans and calls for justice to hold individuals accountable, the AAPI community is still facing consistent hate. Less than a week after the Atlanta shooting in which eight people were killed, a number of crimes have been reported after and during protests against attacks on Asian Americans. In New York state alone, five attacks were recorded this weekend. Authorities are investigating at least four of the attacks as possible hate crimes, including one that left a man in critical condition, The New York Times reported. Three people have been arrested in connection with three of them.
In one of the five incidents, a 37-year-old Asian woman was punched in front of her daughter while on her way back to a protest against anti-Asian violence on Sunday in Union Square. The protest was held to bring attention to the increasing number of hate crimes against Asians in the country.
According to police and witnesses, the woman, identified as Katie Hou, was walking in New York City when a stranger stopped her on the street and asked to see her protest sign, Gothamist reported. Hou, thinking the man was interested in the protest, gave the man the sign but instead of taking an interest in the sign, he attempted to throw it in a trash can before stomping on it. When Hou asked why he did this, the man allegedly hit her in the face and fled. Witnesses shared that the man then began yelling and pulled down his pants, exposing himself to bystanders.
A witness recounted the incident to Gothamist and noted that the entire attack happened in full view of the woman’s 7-year-old daughter."You could see she was just numb. At one point, a woman approached her and gave her a cookie," Rita Chan, an East Village resident, told Gothamist. "As soon she saw her mom being put on the gurney, that’s when she started crying. It was heartbreaking."
Police released a video of the suspect Monday. The crime is currently under investigation by the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force.
The incident sheds light on both the devastation associated with the string of attacks occurring against the AAPI community in addition to the fear associated with the possibility of being a victim of this racist violence. “People need to be vigilant about their safety,” Hou told the Times. “But at the same time, we need to do something to stop this from happening again.” Hou, who is recovering from her assault, told the outlet she hopes that her attack does not scare others from speaking out and attending such events.
Hours after Hou was attacked, another woman, a 41-year-old, was walking in the city as well when she was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground. According to the Times, a 37-year-old woman named Patricia Melendez was arrested on charges of assault and disorderly conduct in correlation to this incident. Hours later also on Sunday, another incident occurred in which a 54-year-old woman of Asian descent was hit in the face with a metal pipe by a man while walking in the city.
According to NBC News, witnesses heard the suspect say: "I'm here to f--- up Asians.” This assailant too was arrested and charged with several charges including hate crime assault, resisting arrest, and harassment. The victim who did not want to be identified required at least 15 stitches to treat her injuries, NBC News reported.
But this weekend’s violence was not limited to Sunday. On Saturday a 66-year-old Asian man was punched in the face, while on Friday a 68-year-old Sri Lankan man riding the subway in Lower Manhattan was beaten by another passenger after the passenger yelled racial slurs directed at him. This man was left bloodied and in critical condition following the assault.
According to the Times, his assailant, identified as Marc Mathieu, allegedly posted a long video on Facebook prior to the attack in which he spoke about a multitude of disjoined topics including violent security forces working at the Staten Island Ferry. Witnesses to the assault noted that the attacker threw what looked like a crumped-up newspaper at the victim before charging at him. “Within seconds there was blood everywhere,” George Okrepkie, a witness told the Times.
Data released by Stop AAPI Hate found that almost 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate were reported over the last year during the pandemic. The number of crimes represents not all crimes as it only accounts for those reported, thus the actual number of crimes is expected to be much higher. Additionally of the 3,800 anti-hate incidents reported 68% targeted women and 500 occurred in 2021 alone.
Prior to this weekend’s attacks, New York Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea said the department was investigating 10 anti-Asian hate crimes reported through mid-March, during an interview with Pix11 Thursday. He added that no such crimes had been reported in early 2020 before the pandemic reached New York.
According to police statistics released in January, the department recorded at least 29 anti-Asian attacks last year, including 25 that are believed to stem from coronavirus misinformation. A special task force has been created to address these crimes against Asian identifying individuals, the Times reported.
Racism and hate no matter who it is directed at cannot be tolerated. Now more than ever the AAPI community needs our support. For those looking for ways to support the community outside of protesting, check out this guide on resources and ways to support the AAPI community and our Asian friends.