An Asian woman was attacked with a hammer while walking with a friend in Hell’s Kitchen Sunday night, the latest in a string of violent attacks against Asian people across the country. Police are still searching for the suspect and have released surveillance footage of the assault, which happened around 8:40 p.m. on West 42nd Street.
The footage shows a female suspect approaching the two women on the sideway and lashing out at them with the hammer. The attacker reportedly yelled at the victim to take off her face mask.
ABC7 described the victim as a 31-year-old who recently graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She received a deep cut on her forehead which required seven stitches. The victim, who only wished to be identified by her first name, Theresa, described the attack to the network.
“She was talking to herself, like talking to a wall, I thought maybe she was drunk or something, so we just wanted to pass through her quickly and when I passed through her, she saw us and said ‘Take off your f***ing mask,’ which is shocking,” Theresa said. “Suddenly I felt my head get hit by something.”
There has been an uptick in reports of anti-Asian violence across the United States in recent months. Data from the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force shows 42 confirmed hate crime incidents with an anti-Asian bias from January to March of this year, with 17 arrests being made in those cases. That’s compared to 28 anti-Asian incidents in all of 2020, with 23 arrests.
The NYPD is also investigating two other assaults on Asian Americans that occurred on Saturday, one against a teenager and the other a woman in her 50s.
The New York Post reports that a 52-year-old woman was waiting for a subway train in Brooklyn when she was pushed close to the subway tracks. Her assailant, also believed to be a woman, got away.
In Queens, a 15-year-old boy was accosted by a group of people who hit him and yelled anti-Asian slurs.
An NYPD spokesman told the paper that three suspects, one 18-year-old and two minors, had been arrested on charges of assault and harassment and that a hate-crime charge could be added down the line.
A rally against anti-Asian discrimination was held in Flushing, Queens, on Sunday at the Flushing Town Hall. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Attorney General Leticia James headlined the event and were also joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Mayor de Blasio.
Meng addressed the crowd, saying the U.S. education system doesn’t focus enough on the history of anti-Asian bias in America, from the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese internment camps. She stressed the importance of unity between people from different backgrounds and said that progress can only be made by working together.
“The answer to racism is never more racism. It is solidarity,” Meng said.
“We have a long road ahead of us, but it will be easier and smoother and productive because we’re walking together,” she added.