Asian American woman attacked in New York City, suspect sought

Reports are rising of hostility, violence against Asian Americans as Biden, Congress seek to counter bias and hate.

The New York City police are searching for a man who punched and kicked a 65-year-old Asian American woman while making “anti-Asian statements”, the latest violent incident following a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States.

The New York Police Department’s hate crimes department said in a tweet that the woman was approached on a street in Midtown Manhattan shortly before noon on Monday “by an unidentified male who punched and kicked her about the body”.

Videos posted on social media showed the attacker kicking the woman in the stomach, knocking her to the ground and stomping on her at least three times before walking away without anyone trying to protect her. One man shut the door of a nearby building without attending to the victim, the footage showed.

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said last week that targeting anyone “because of the colour of their skin, the religion they worship, their sexual preference or anything else” would not be tolerated.

New York City launched plans last week to deploy an all-Asian undercover police team to combat a rise in hate crimes against Asians, which included shooting attacks at Atlanta-area spas this month in which six Asian women were killed.

Attacks against Asian Americans have come into sharper focus in the wake of the shooting spree in Georgia and other incidents in New York and California.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been rising in the US during the coronavirus pandemic, spurred in part by xenophobic rhetoric about the “China virus” by leading politicians including former President Donald Trump.

Attacks against Asian Americans rose by 149 percent in 2020 in 16 big US cities compared with 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

People wave a large ‘AAPI Against Hate’ sign at honking cars during a planned rally against anti-Asian hate crimes held by the Asian American Pacific Islanders Organizing Coalition Against Hate and Bias in Washington state on March 17 [File: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters]

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a set of measures responding to rising anti-Asian violence, including deploying $49.5m from COVID-19 relief funds for federal community programmes that help victims.

White House officials said in a statement on Tuesday that the Department of Justice is focusing on the rising number of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

In Congress, the US Senate is preparing to act on legislation that passed the House earlier that would bolster what the Biden administration is doing by requiring the Justice Department to review such cases for federal prosecution under hate crime statutes.

Survey data suggests reported incidents of hostility and violence against Asian Americans since the pandemic began are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ten percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander adults have experienced hate crimes and hate incidents in 2021, according to a March 2021 study by AAPI Data, a US publisher of demographic information and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Similarly, 12 percent of Asian Americans and 10 percent of Pacific Islanders experienced hate incidents in 2020.

“With about 18 million AAPI adult residents in the United States, these survey findings suggest that millions of AAPIs have experienced hate incidents since the onset of COVID-19,” AAPI Data said in a statement.



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