Man charged with hate crime after Asian woman attacked in New York City’s Chinatown

A man has been charged with a hate crime after a violent attack against an Asian woman outside a New York City restaurant on Memorial Day.

Alexander Wright, 48, has been charged with assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of controlled substance after the unprovoked attack was caught on camera, according to the New York City Police Department.

The suspect approached a 55-year-old woman and punched her in the face causing her to fall to the ground, according to video shared on Twitter by Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, whose district includes Chinatown. The woman was taken to a local hospital in stable condition, police said.

Niou told WCBS-TV that the assault was heartbreaking for her community amid the growing number of attacks against Asian Americans in the city.

“I cannot understand why people can’t just see that we are also human,” she said. “When people hurt us, that causes permanent trauma.”

‘A historic surge’: Anti-Asian American hate incidents continue to skyrocket despite public awareness campaign

The attack came just days after an Asian police officer was assaulted while responding to call in San Francisco. Video of that incident shows the suspect initially complied with the officer’s request before turning around, hitting her and pulling her to the ground.

Police Department spokesperson Robert Rueca told the San Francisco Chronicle that the “investigation is looking at aspects of this assault on the officer which includes a possible hate crime and motive.”

Four bystanders intervened to stop the attack before more officers arrive and arrested the suspect. Michael Waldorf, one of the men who rushed to the officer’s aid, told ABC News the suspect was “squeezing her head and pulling her hair.”

“I saw that it was an emergency and she was in trouble,” he said. “I ran over and immediately tried to free her from his grip — hitting him in the head.”

Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle the alleged attack demonstrates a need for more housing and mental health services.

Gerardo Contreras, 33, was booked into city jail on multiple charges including assault, battery on a peace officer and violating civil rights, according to jail records.

Violence against Asian Americans and Asians has grown despite increased national attention and political action against anti-Asian hate, according to experts. 

There was a more than 164% increase in anti-Asian hate crime reports to police in the first quarter of 2021 in 16 major cities and jurisdictions compared with last year, according to a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

More than 6,600 hate incidents have been reported in the year after the pandemic began in the United States, Stop AAPI Hate announced last month.

Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

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USA TODAY

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