Just after 12pm on Monday, a 65-year-old Asian American woman was attacked on the streets of Manhattan by an unidentified man police say is still at large.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) released surveillance footage of a man physically and verbally attacking the woman while yelling anti-Asian sentiments. The video also showed security guards at a nearby building standing by and watching without intervening. The incident is being investigated by police as a hate crime, and has incited horror and fury across social media.
On Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the video “absolutely disgusting and outrageous” and encouraged New Yorkers to take a more active role in fighting anti-Asian hate.
“This is something where we all have to be part of the solution,” he said. “We can’t just stand back and watch a heinous act happening.”
A reporter for ABC 7 Eyewitness News, said on Twitter that the attacker was heard saying, “f*** you, you don’t belong here.”
CeFaan Kim, said that the woman, who was on her way to church, suffered serious injuries as a result of the attack. She was hospitalised with swelling to the face and pain in her left leg, a fractured pelvis and contusion to her head.
The NYPD has made a public call out through their Hate Crime Task Force, offering up to $US2,500 (AUD$3,285) as a reward for anyone with information about the unidentified attacker.
“We can’t be silent in the face of rising violence against Asian Americans,” he Tweeted. “That’s why today I’m taking additional steps to respond–including establishing an initiative at the Department of Justice to address anti-Asian crimes. These attacks are wrong, un-American, and must stop.”
Vice President Kamala Harris condemned the attacks, saying “A harm against one of us is a harm against all of us.”
The incident is the latest in an escalating series of hate crimes against Asian Americans since the beginning of the pandemic.
Since the start of 2021, NYPD have recorded a total of 33 hate crimes against Asian-American or Pacific Islander people. According to a report from Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit social organisation that tracks incidents of discrimination, hate and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S, more than 3,795 incidents were reported to the organisation between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021
According to its own researchers, the number is “only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur,” and crimes continue to rise. The data from the centre also showed that Asian-American women were more than twice as likely to report hate crimes against them than Asian-American men.
Earlier this month, a gunman took the lives of eight people at three spaces in Atlanta, Georgia; six of the victims were Asian women.
On Twitter, Democratic City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the latest incident in New York City “absolutely vile.”
“These attacks against Asian-American New Yorkers must end,” he Tweeted. “Hate has no place here and we must always call it out when we see it. My office is reaching out to the precinct and will do anything we can to be of assistance.”
The CCTV video of the incident showed a man inside a building lobby stopping to watch the assault. Two men wearing blazers were later seen walking into the frame, with one of them closing the door as the woman lay injured on the ground.
The building’s property developer and manager has announced it has suspended the men, pending an investigation. Earlier this morning, sources said the property owner ended his cooperation with the police investigation and was refusing to provide further surveillance recordings without a subpoena.
Calvin Hunt, a community activist in Hell’s Kitchen, has been seen standing in front of the building where the attacks took place, holding a sign in support of Asian Americans.
“I’m sick & tired of what’s going on with the Asian community,” he said. “Somebody has to step up, I’m here to support… if you see something do something!”
In the last few weeks, multiple rallies have taken place across the U.S with citizens showing their support for the Asian American community, including crowds of people in Georgia carrying posters that read “We are not the virus” and “Stop Asian Hate”.
Last week, an Asian American veteran and current board member of West Chester Township in Cincinnati made a powerful speech denouncing hate against the Asian community. During his speech, he lifted his shirt to reveal scars he’d obtain from combat fighting in the military.
“Is this patriot enough?” Lee Wong said, in a video that has since gone viral.
“People question my patriotism, that I don’t look American enough. They cannot get over this face. I want to show you something because I’m not afraid. … I’m going to show you what patriotism looks like.”