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Federal Officials Speak Out Against Anti-Asian Violence

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Federal elected officials are speaking out against what they say is an alarming surge in violence against Asians.

But not every crime is classified as a hate crime.

As CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports, the video made national headlines: An Asian woman in Flushing viciously pushed to the ground on Roosevelet Avenue.

Her spoke out on CNN.

"They had a dispute when they were on line at the bakery and the man started acting relatively violently against her and things escalated from there," Sam Cheng said.

The story went viral, with people including actress Olivia Munn blasting out pictures of the suspect on social media.

Police say the community came through with tips, and they quickly made an arrest. They say Patrick Mateo, 47, is charged with assault and harassment.

"That to me felt like our community was seen yesterday. We were seen and people cared about what happened to us. They cared about what happened to Sam's mom," Munn said.

Friday, House Democrats cited the case in a news conference about an alarming increase in targeted attacks on Asian Americans nationwide, though in Flushing Mateo has not been charged with a hate crime.

"I spoke with the family. I spoke with the local police precinct and they all told me that there weren't necessarily evidence of racial slurs that were being used," said Rep. Grace Meng.

Regardless, they cited more than 3,000 anti-Asian/coronavirus hate incidents in the last year nationwide, several recently in the Bay Area of California.

The NYPD reported only three anti-Asian hate crimes. In 2020, there were 29, 24 of them motivated by COVID-19. The latest statistics from January show zero against Asians.

Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership says crimes are still underreported in a community on edge.

"Antennas are up. We are more alert now. We are more concerned about looking around us," Chen said.

House Democrats blame former President Donald Trump in part for inflaming tensions. They're calling for more legislation, and a public campaign so people know how to document a hate crime.


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