On May 2, two Asian females, 31 and 29, were walking on the sidewalk at 441 West 42nd St. around 8:40 p.m. when an unknown female demanded that they remove their masks. The attacker then struck the 31-year-old female in the head with a hammer, causing a laceration, according to police.
The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force released footage showing the attacker approaching the two Asian women and then hitting one of them on the head with the weapon.
Theresa, the 31-year-old victim, a recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, who did not want to reveal her last name to maintain her privacy, told ABC7 New York that the attacker was talking to herself when she and her friend walked past her.
“I thought maybe she was drunk or something, so we just wanted to pass by her quickly,” said Theresa to ABC7. “She saw us and said, ‘Take off your fucking mask,’ which is shocking.” Then Theresa said she felt she was hit by something in the head.
Frank Lee, the manager of Ollie’s Sichuan (Hell’s Kitchen), a restaurant close to where the incident took place, said he heard noise and came out of the restaurant. He said he saw one of the Asian women had blood on her forehead.
“My staff brought napkins and water for her,” said Lee to NY City Lens. “Then she left in an ambulance. We didn’t know what happened until we saw the news on TV.”
The police are now investigating the case. No arrest has been made at this point.
On the same day, Sumit Ahluwalia, a 32-year-old Sikh man, spoke at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally at Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park in Richmond Hill, Queens, about an incident that happened to him on April 26th at a Quality Inn, where he worked in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Around 8 a.m., that morning, Ahluwalia said, he was attacked by an unknown man who entered the hotel lobby and started yelling at him and the front desk staff, and then, he said, the attacker spit at him three times. Ahluwalia approached the attacker and asked, “Hey brother, what happened?”
Ahluwalia said the attacker replied, “You’re not my brother. You’re not the same skin. I don’t like you.” Then, Ahluwalia said, the man hit him on the head with a hammer.
Police arrested Latif Gina of Brooklyn, 27, on May 4 and charged him with assault, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon. Police said the arrest is not linked to the attack on the two Asian women in Manhattan on May 2.
The Sikh community is calling for Ahluwalia’s case to be investigated as a hate crime. The Sikh Coalition, a Sikh civil and human rights advocacy group, said its legal team is now providing free legal services to Ahluwalia. According to the advocacy group, the case has not yet been filed as a hate crime. Police said the case is still under investigation.
“No one should have to live with the fear that Mr. Ahluwalia has experienced after this unprovoked attack,” Giselle Klapper, senior staff attorney of the Sikh Coalition. “The Sikh Coalition is in direct contact with law enforcement about this case, we are confident they are examining all possible motives, including bias.”
Politicians and community leaders also attended the rally to show their support.
“I stand in solidarity with Sumit Ahluwalia and our Sikh community against the despicable hate crime that was perpetrated against him,” said Councilwoman Adrienne Adams. “We will continue to promote unity in our city, and we will stand up against bias and we will stand up against hate.”
According to Graham West, the communication director of Sikh Coalition, Ahluwalia is resting and recovering, but he is grateful that a suspect has been apprehended. He is not speaking further to members of the press at this time.
Despite the ongoing rallies and protests against the latest surge in crimes against Asian Americans, hate crimes continue in New York City. According to statistics released by the NYPD on May 5, the city recorded 180 hate crimes from January 1 through May 2. Members of the Asian community were the most targeted group among all, with a striking number of 80 anti-Asian hate crimes from January 1 through May 2, a 400% increase from the same period a year ago.
However, the number show only one part of the story. Many victims were traumatized by what they’ve experienced months after the incidents and continue to suffer. Some like medical student, Oranicha Jumreornvong, have chosen to stand up and speak out, hoping to offer support to their communities as the hate crimes continue in the city. In a story on NY City Lens, the third-year medical student at Mount Sinai’s School of Medicine, talked about how she assailed with racial slurs and attacked by an unknown person on the street when she was walking to the hospital to cover a shift in February. She has since then started to join in rallies and protests, calling for an end to the anti-Asian violence.