An Asian woman was smashed in the head with a hammer in New York City on Sunday. She was walking with another person on the 410 block of West 42nd Street when a woman approached them from behind and demanded they take off their masks.
“Take off your mask,” the woman shouted, before lunging at the Asian women. She then attacked them with a hammer multiple times, seemingly striking one at least twice, before running off. The 31-year-old who was struck was hospitalized with head lacerations but is expected to make a full recovery. The friend was unharmed, police say.
The horrifying incident was caught on a security camera, documenting what investigators believe is a case of “Asian hate,” which has surged in the United States, especially in New York City, in recent months. The suspect ran eastbound on 42nd after the attack.
“I’ve been here like two years and I’ve never faced this kind of thing,” one of the victims told NBC New York. “This has never happened in my life.” There has been no confirmation that the attack was a hate crime, NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating.
Governor Andrew Cuomo took the opportunity Tuesday to express his dismay and disgust at the attack. “I am disgusted by this violent attack in Midtown Manhattan,” he said in his statement. “the latest seemingly senseless and despicable hate crime against Asian Americans in this state. We will do everything in our power to protect those who are vulnerable to these attacks and to hold cowardly perpetrators accountable to the full extent of the law.”
The attack happened mere hours after a rally against Asian hate took place in Flushing, Queens. “It was inspiring to see such a large turnout for our anti-hate rally & march this afternoon in Flushing,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards tweeted Sunday. “Queens has clearly taken a strong stand against hate, bigotry, and violence, and we are definitely stronger when we are united.”
Hundreds gathered to stand against the rise in anti-Asian attacks. A study released by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University shows a major spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans, surging 169 percent from the same periods in 2020 and 2021. The rates have exploded in New York in particular, with a 223 percent jump, from 13 hate crimes in the first quarter of 2020 to 42 in 2021.
The startling figures have only gotten worse as more incidents are reported. The two Asian women who were attacked on 42nd street are only the latest in a string of crimes against Asian Americans. Still, investigators are trying to understand whether the attack was fueled by Asian-specific hate or whether the masks had anything to do with it.
There was recently a call for Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson for inciting violence against people wearing masks. Carlson went so far to suggest that “the next time you see someone in a mask on the sidewalk or on the bike path, do not hesitate. Ask polite but firmly, ‘would you please take off your mask? Your mask is making me uncomfortable.’”
Tucker Carlson has made numerous remarks on his show Tucker Carlson Tonight, expressing that mask wearers are making people “uncomfortable.” His comments have sparked a heated debate, many claiming he is just as bad as Donald Trump before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.