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NYC Leaders, Activists Rally Against Violent Racist Attacks On Asians

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD says it's investigating four attacks on Asian Americans in the city this past week, and the community says it is refusing to stand by idly.

Lennox Avenue and 139th Avenue is where police say a 27-year-old man was punched twice in the face this past Monday. The victim says the suspect also took his cell phone and told him to go back to China.

Police say they're searching for the suspect.

Meanwhile, inside Washington Square Park, the voices of protesters from various communities and backgrounds could be heard Saturday, all of them speaking out against violent racist attacks on Asians.

"And I'm here to promote conscious of speaking up, talking and fighting for what you believe," one protester said.

As CBS2's Cory James reports, the demonstration happened days after an Asian woman was shoved to the ground in Flushing, Queens, by a man.

While the suspect has not been charged with a hate crime, House Democrats say targeted attacks on Asian Americans have risen to 3,000 nationwide in the last year.

New York City officials say back in 2019, there were only three anti-Asian hate crimes.

Last year, however, they say there were 29 incidents, 24 of those believed to be motivated by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, local leaders and activists are joining forces, denouncing the violence and calling for change.

"We understand when we're being singled out for one reason and one reason only, and that is the color of our skin, or some would say, the angle of our eyes. That is bigotry at its worst, and we cannot stand for, here in New York or anywhere else in this country," New York State Sen. John Liu said.

"There are issues that we always have in our communities. I'm gonna have a task force, I want Joe on that task force he talked about this morning. We got to deal with our interrelations, but we do not need to be anything but unequivocal in standing against the rise in hate against Asian Americans," Rev. Al Sharpton said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Saturday saying New York City is proud to be home to one of the largest Asian populations in the country.

He said the city stands with the Asian community and added hatred does not belong in New York City.

Saturday night, more than a dozen people gathered at the corner of Canal and Centre streets in Chinatown to volunteer with "Safe Walks NYC."

Gale Pauly was among the volunteers.

"It's not about us. It's a reaction," he said.

The Brooklyn-based organization escorts people to and from subway stations.

"People feel, you know, they feel unsafe. They're being attacked, mostly people who are walking alone, so our presence helps provide that sense of security to them," Safe Walks NYC organizer Peter Kerri said. "It's better to deter something from happening."

The group was standing by, wearing reflective gear, ready in case they receive a call from anyone worried about their safety.

"If any requests come up, we will dispatch out to provide safe walks," Kerri said.

Right now, requests for Safe Walks are made through Instagram and the organization's website. The group is hoping to develop an app to reach more people in the city.


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