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Community, actress Olivia Munn call for justice after Asian woman is attacked in Queens

NYPD filephoto
Posted at 6:52 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 18:52:39-05

FLUSHING, Queens — A string of attacks against Asian New Yorkers allegedly continued Tuesday, with many in the Queens community asking for help finding a man accused of violently pushing a woman to the ground in Flushing.

Celebrities and internet users, too, are using their influence to further the cause.

Actress Olivia Munn, known for roles in "The Newsroom" and "X-Men: Apocalypse," tweeted about the incident, saying the victim is her friend's mother.

"We're gonna find this guy," she said.

The attack happened at about 1:55 p.m. by a Roosevelt Avenue bakery near Main Street in Flushing, police said.

The woman, 50, was waiting in line for the bakery when an unknown man approached her and engaged in a verbal dispute, police said. The man then pushed her to the ground and she hit her head.

She was taken to a local hospital by EMS, police said.

An NYPD spokesperson said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime, and they did not have any information regarding bias or the use of slurs.

But individuals who say they're the victim's children posted on social media that the suspect was yelling racial slurs as he attacked the woman in a predominantly Asian community.

"Hate crime has no place in our community," they said in their posts, adding that the woman passed out at the scene and received several stitches on her forehead after spending hours in the hospital.

Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged nationwide and in New York City in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China; an attack on a 91-year old man in Oakland, for instance, has gone viral.

According to a report by THE CITY republished by PIX11 News, 2020 saw a record number of bias attacks against Asians in the city based on police statistics; they accounted for 10% of all hate crime incidents investigated by the NYPD that year.

NYPD Hate Crime records show 27 incidents involving Asians last year, with the majority of them classified as “Other Corona," THE CITY report said.

That’s a ninefold increase from 2019, when just three incidents were probed, it said.

Since last March, there have been more than 2,800 anti-Asian incidents in the U.S. as a whole, according to an analysis by a national group tracking anti-Asian hate and discrimination during the pandemic that was obtained by THE CITY.

And that's likely not all of them; advocates said many anti-Asian hate crimes in New York go unreported.

Since the spike in hate crimes, the NYPD started a new task force focused on crimes against Asian New Yorkers.

"This hit home for me because I have friends, families who are legitimately afraid to go outside because they have fears for their safety,” said NYPD Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo.

But as of early February, the NYPD said no hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers have been reported to police so far in 2021.

Just this week, though, two Asian women were attacked in separate incidents Tuesday inside the subway system.

The first attack happened on the northbound A platform at 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem around 7 a.m., according to the NYPD. The 68-year-old woman was punched in the head, officials said.

Then around noon, a 71-year-old woman was struck in the face and body while riding an E train near 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, according to police.

It wasn’t immediately clear if police were investigating these attacks as hate crimes.

The City Commission on Human Rights, which investigates bias complaints, took in 205 cases last year involving anti-Asian incidents, a nearly sevenfold rise compared to 2019, THE CITY's report noted.

To classify an incident as a hate crime, police must show it was motivated due to the identity of the victim, often by citing words used by suspects in conjunction with violence, the report added.

President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance against the Asian and Pacific Island community.

And it comes at the right time: a recent study done by an Asian youth campaign showed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one in four Asian Americans have personally experienced hate nationwide.

Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

PIX11's Lauren Cook, Kristine Garcia, Nicole Johnson and Craig Treadway contributed, along with reporting from THE CITY.

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.