KEY POINTS

  • Anti-Asian hate crimes are up since the coronavirus spread to NYC
  • One incident involved a man being accosted on the subway and sprayed with air freshener 
  • Another involved a 23-year-old Asian woman getting punched in the face  

Earlier this week, a Brooklyn man of Asian descent was accosted by a fellow passenger. The man screamed expletives at the Brooklyn man, and told him to move, shortly before spraying air freshener in his direction. The incident is the latest example of racist and reactionary behavior in the wake of coronavirus hysteria. The virus originated in China, and this has led to heightened aggression among Asian residents in the city.

NBC reports that New York City’s Asian community has seen a marked uptick in Anti-Asian sentiment since the coronavirus made its way across the ocean from China’s Wuhan province. In another incident on Tuesday, police said a suspect approached a 59-year-old man of Asian descent on Madison Avenue in East Harlem and made anti-Asian statements.

As diagnoses of the virus continue to increase, and the threat of violence and misplaced blame escalates, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement in an effort to quell tensions.

"To be clear: there is zero evidence that people of Asian descent bear any additional responsibility for the transmission of the coronavirus," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement issued on Wednesday. "This incident was not only despicable but also illegal, and I am directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation to make sure the assailant is held accountable."

The incident is being investigated as a hate crime by the NYPD’s hate crime unit that is asking anyone with additional information to come forward. In one more incident, a 23-year-old Asian woman at the Zoni Language School was punched in the face by another woman before the assailant asked, "Where's your corona mask, you Asian -----."

The Asian community is bracing itself for increased violence as the outbreak continues to unfold. To date, there have been 95 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York City.