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Lawmakers Fed Up With Mental Illness, Homelessness Intersecting With Attacks On Asian-American Community

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Days after a homeless man was charged after allegedly sucker-punching an Asian woman, there are pleas to get troubled people on the streets help.

"I'm sick and tired of getting text messages about hate crimes every single day," City Councilmember Margaret Chin said.

The attacks are so frequent now, anti-hate rallies have to be organized on an almost weekly basis.

For too many times to count this year, the Asian-American community gathered Wednesday to denounce yet another unsettling attack. The latest one happened in the heart of Chinatown, CBS2's Christina Fan reported Wednesday.

A 55-year-old woman was punched so viciously on Bayard Street on Monday night, she slumped to the ground unconscious as the suspect continued screaming.

"My question is why? Why? Why are they targeting our community? Why are they targeting seniors?" Chin said.

READ MOREPolice: 75-Year-Old Asian Woman Suffers Broken Nose, Fractured Eye Rocket After Being Punched In Queens

Chin and members of the Asian-American senior community shared their fears of living in a time of heightened violence.

"I'm 79 years old, right? If I walking in the street, anytime I get hit, what do I do?" one area resident said.

READ MOREMayor De Blasio Announces More Funding For Anti-Hate Initiatives Amid Increase In Anti-Asian, Anti-Semitic Attacks

"I have never seen this rash of continually, non-stop anti-Asian hate," said Jenny Low, Democratic District Leader.

Police say 48-year-old Alexander Wright, who is homeless, was responsible for Monday night's attack. In the past year, he was arrested eight times for arson and assault.

Four days ago, he pled guilty to two violent crimes. One was for scratching a stranger's face, and the other was for throwing hot coffee into the faces of two traffic officers.

Advocates say too often mental illness and homelessness intersect with attacks on the Asian-American community.

"The shelters can't just be a place for them to sleep. It's got to be a place where the individuals can get the services that they need. That's what we have to look at and that's what we have to change," Chin said.

READ MORENYPD: Suspect At Large After Shoving Asian Man Onto Subway Tracks In Queens

Community leaders say Wright's repeated arrests are an issue impacting much more than just the Asian-American community.

"New York City has failed this woman. New York City has failed all of us. Alexander Wright should not have been on our streets. Some crimes are unforeseeable. This was completely foreseeable," mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said.

But advocates argue Monday's assault could have been prevented.

When asked, Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked the ball to Albany, citing the need to reform parole laws.

"We get a lot of people who come out of prison and are simply dumped in New York City by the state of New York instead of getting help and support," he said.

Wright was arraigned on multiple assault charges Wednesday. The judge set bail at $15,000 cash. The District Attorney's office is still working with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force to see if the attack was motivated by race.

CBS2's Christina Fan contributed to this report

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