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Possible anti-Asian hate crime fueled by "bigoted notion" about coronavirus, New York governor says

Two people of Asian descent were attacked this week in New York City, and the separate incidents are being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. The possible hate crimes come as Asian-Americans across the country are experiencing heightened discrimination, bullying and harassment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first incident, which happened Tuesday morning in midtown Manhattan, a 23-year-old woman was punched in the face by another woman who made anti-Asian slurs before fleeing, the NYPD said.

The victim, who did not want to be identified, told WABC she was standing on the sidewalk outside the language school she attends when the woman approached her.

"I remember exactly what she said," the victim, a Korean student, told WABC. "She said, Where is your [expletive] mask, you coronavirus [expletive.]" 

The victim told the station the woman then yanked her arm and punched her in the chin. The woman and several others then surrounded the victim, yelling anti-Asian slurs. WABC reported that the victim was taken to the hospital with a possible dislocated jaw.

"I don't know why she did that to me, I didn't even do anything to her — I was just standing at the door, I just tried to get in the building," the victim said. 

The NYPD said the suspect and the victim know each other and the incident is being investigated as a bias crime. So far, no arrests have been made.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denounced the attack in a statement Wednesday.

"I am disgusted to hear that a woman of Asian descent was physically assaulted in Manhattan on Tuesday - an attack apparently motivated by the bigoted notion that an Asian person is more likely to carry or transmit the novel coronavirus," Cuomo wrote. "To be clear: there is zero evidence that people of Asian descent bear any additional responsibility for the transmission of the coronavirus."

Cuomo called the attack "not only despicable, but illegal." 

The second incident occurred in the evening on the same day in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood. The NYPD said an unidentified male approached a 59-year-old man from behind. He then made anti-Asian statements and kicked the victim, causing him to fall the the ground. The suspect fled, and the victim refused medical attention at the scene, police said.

Sources told CBS New York that the suspect, a teen, allegedly told the victim to go back to his country and mentioned the coronavirus. Sources told the station the same suspect attacked the victim on March 7, spitting in his face, referencing the coronavirus and making anti-Asian comments.
 
The NYPD hate crimes task force is investigating the assault. Police released surveillance video of a person wanted for questioning in the case and asked for the public's help in identifying him.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. Tipsters can submit information via the Crime Stoppers website, by tweeting @NYPDTips or by texting 274637.

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