New York City police are investigating if a “horrific attack” that left a 61-year-old Asian man in critical condition Friday night was racially motivated.
The attack occurred around 8:30 p.m. when a man struck the victim from behind, “causing him to fall to the ground” in East Harlem, police said Saturday.
Surveillance footage released by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, which is also investigating the incident, shows the man kicking the victim’s head repeatedly while he is on the ground.
Emergency medical personnel rushed the man, who has not been identified, to a local hospital, police said.
No arrests have been made as of Saturday afternoon.
While authorities have not determined if the victim was targeted because of his race, the incident comes amid a wave of racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans nationwide, including one in New York City that was captured on camera and sparked widespread outrage last month.
Vilma Kari, 65, who is of Filipino descent, was on her way to church on the morning of March 29 when she was attacked on West 43rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, police said.
Police released video that showed a man kicking the victim in her stomach, causing her to fall to the ground. The man then stomped the woman’s head multiple times while making anti-Asian statements, police said.
Kari was treated at the hospital for a fractured pelvis, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said.
Brandon Elliot, 38, was charged with two counts of assault in the second degree as a hate crime, and one count of attempted assault in the first degree as a hate crime, in connection with the attack, according to the DA.
The spike in hate crimes nationwide was first seen in March and April of last year at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic amid “negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic,” according to an analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
While hate crimes decreased overall by 7 percent last year, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent across 16 of the nation’s largest cities in 2020, the analysis found.
New York accounted for the largest surge from three in 2019 to 28 in 2020, an 833 percent increase.
The uptick in cases prompted the U.S. Senate to pass legislation Thursday targeting anti-Asian hate crimes.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, in March, would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the review of hate crimes related to Covid-19 that were reported to law enforcement agencies and help them establish ways to report such incidents online and perform public outreach.
It would also direct the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue best-practices guidance on how to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.