Despite the increased awareness, hate crimes against Asian Americans continue to increase nationwide. These crimes are especially on a rise in states with major cities like New York. It seems like every day in New York an incident of hate has been reported against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
In the most recently reported incident to make headlines, a New York man has been charged with a hate crime after allegedly striking a woman with a pool cue and yelling racial slurs, WGRZ reported. Officials noted the incident happened at San-Dees Pub on Grand Island around 4 AM.
According to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, as a result of the attack, the victim received stitches for a cut to her lip and suffered pain and swelling to her nose and mouth. A temporary order of protection was issued on behalf of the victim, the report said.
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The suspect was identified as 46-year-old Charles Vacanti. He was initially arrested for assault on March 19. According to court records, Vacanti, who is 5'7”, attacked the woman, who is 5 feet tall.
“You can imagine a 5 foot 7, 270-pound defendant striking a 5-foot woman in the head with a pool stick in the head concussed, I’m not sure if she required stitches, but severe enough to charge a felony,” police officials said.
Following further investigation, Vacanti was arrested again on Wednesday, April 20, and charged with one count of felony assault with intent to cause injury with a weapon as a hate crime, as well as one count of criminal possession of a weapon with intent to use.
"They did not know each other. Now how they came about the altercation, that's something I'd rather not comment on right now. What I could tell you is prior to the defendant striking the victim, he did use some racial slurs and then struck the victim," said Erie County Sheriff John Garcia.
According to NBC News, at least five witnesses at the bar said they saw Vacanti leave after the attack. Garcia noted that witnesses and employees at the bar helped investigators find and identify Vacanti. Whether there is surveillance footage of the incident is unclear at this time.
Of course, Vacanti claims to have done nothing wrong, despite witnesses confirming they saw the attack. “My client vehemently denies, first of all, any assault or anything of that nature, and certainly any indication or allegation of a hate crime,” said Frank LoTempio, Vacanti's lawyer.
While xenophobia against the AAPI community is not a new phenomenon, the attack follows an alarming increase in hate crimes across the country. Hate crime data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino found that hate crimes against Asian Americans surged in 2020 in at least 15 cities, Daily Kos reported. As the cities were further reviewed, a new report indicated that crimes against Asian Americans rose by 169% when comparing the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021.
Additionally, women have been most vulnerable to attacks. According to a recent research report released by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, 74% of AAPI women reported having personally experienced racism or discrimination in the last 12 months.