An Asian mother was repeatedly punched in the face by a stranger on Sunday while walking to a demonstration against anti-Asian violence, according to police and witnesses.
The latest incident in a surge of attacks on Asian New Yorkers occurred at Astor Place, after an unidentified man approached the woman, asked for her protest sign, then stomped on it, according to police. When she asked why he did that, the man allegedly punched her in the face twice, then fled into a nearby subway station. The 37-year-old victim suffered a cuts and bruising to her lip, and a sprained ankle while trying to chase the assailant.
Rita Chan, an East Village resident who saw the aftermath of the confrontation, said the attack happened in full view of the woman’s young daughter.
“You could see she was just numb. At one point, a woman approached her and gave her a cookie,” Chan told Gothamist. “As soon she saw her mom being put on the gurney, that’s when she started crying. It was heartbreaking.”
On Monday, police released video of the suspect wearing a Chicago Bulls sweatshirt and carrying a camouflage backpack. The incident is under investigation by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
WANTED for HATE CRIME ASSAULT : On Sunday March 21, 2021 @ 11:37 A.M. in the vicinity of 51 Astor Pl. @nypd9pct during an Anti-Asian Violence Protest , a protester carrying anti violence sign was approached by a male suspect and assaulted . Any info call us @ 800-577-TIPS pic.twitter.com/FBMxOdvqgd
— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) March 22, 2021
Police and prosecutors in New York have faced scrutiny for their failure to arrest and charge suspects in the recent spate of anti-Asian violence. Last year, New York City saw the largest uptick in reported hate crimes against Asians — up to 28 incidents from just three the previous year.
The fatal shootings of eight people in Atlanta, including six women of Asian descent, have brought a renewed attention to the increase in bias incidents and hate crimes — a trend widely attributed to xenophobic language deployed by former President Donald Trump associating COVID-19 with China.
“It’s crazy to be part of a minority group that goes from invisible one minute to hyper-visible when its time to target someone,” Chan told Gothamist. “It feels like too much right now.”