Slashing victim describes attack as violence against Asian Americans continues

Wesley Lowery reports on the ongoing attacks against Asian Americans and why classifying the attacks as hate crimes is complicated. See the story on 60 Minutes+, now streaming only on Paramount+.

Slashing victim describes attack
Slashing victim describes attack 02:12

Noel Quintana was on his regular 45-minute subway ride to work one day this past February in New York when another man boarded the train.

"When this man boarded the train, he stood beside me," Quintana tells correspondent Wesley Lowery for the newest edition of 60 Minutes+. "So, after a few minutes, he kicked my bag."

Quintana, thinking he may have accidentally bumped into the man, turned away and put his bag in front of him.

"And then after a few more minutes, he kicked it again," Quintana says. "And I said, 'What's-- what's wrong with you?' And then he moved forward, came to me, and then slashed me. I thought he was going to punch me, but I didn't feel anything. So, when I saw the reaction of the people seated, I put my hands on my-- on my face and I saw blood oozing."

"I asked for help. And I asked, 'help me, please. Help me. I'm slashed," Quintana says. "Nobody helped me."

About 100 stitches were needed to close the wound on Quintana's face. Police arrested Pashawn Boykin and charged him with assault. While the case became a rallying cry about targeted attacks against Asian Americans, prosecutors did not bring hate crime charges.

To charge something as a hate crime, prosecutors must have evidence that an attack was specifically motivated by prejudice. While Quintana says he was the only Asian American standing near his attacker, there were no racial slurs made during the incident. A defense attorney for Boykin, who has pleaded not guilty, said prosecutors did not bring hate crime charges in part because his client's past criminal record includes at least one other violent crime on the subway, which was committed against a non-Asian victim.

"It might be a hate crime," Quintana said. "But still, he didn't say anything. So, it's hard."

The attack against Quintana is one of a series of recent high-profile crimes against Asian victims that have been perpetrated across the country. Just last week, on March 29, a man was caught on surveillance video shoving and stomping on a 65-year-old Filipino woman near Times Square. He was later charged with a hate crime.

Hate crimes are notoriously underreported, making it impossible to know whether these videotaped incidents represent an increase in targeted attacks, but the available data does make clear that Asian Americans are increasingly reporting such attacks. The number of reported hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in major cities jumped nearly 150% last year, even as the total number of reported hate crimes fell. New York City, which at nearly 1.2 million has the largest Asian population in the country, had the most reported anti-Asian hate crimes of any major city last year.

See Lowery's report on the measures being taken to stop the violence on the newest edition of 60 Minutes+, now streaming only on Paramount+.