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New York Leaders Rally Behind Asian American Community After Recent Attacks: 'United In Our Anger'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New Yorker leaders are coming together and calling for the ongoing attacks on Asian Americans to stop.

"We are united in our anger," Asian-American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo said Thursday.

Yoo said Asian American hate crimes may have increased since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but they had been going on well before that.

"Name the violence as racism and white supremacy," she said.

Like most Asian Americans, she is still reeling from the recent mass murder in Atlanta, Georgia. Police have yet to rule out a racial motive, since most victims were of Asian descent.

"Eight deaths, six of them are Asian women -- women who look like me, who look like my mom and my sisters," said Yoo.

Rev. Al Sharpton hosted the event Thursday at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem to denounce the rise in hate attacks against the Asian community. He invited all the mayoral candidates and many Asian American leaders, in part blaming the words of former President Donald Trump for the increase.

"There is no such thing as Kung-Flu," Sharpton said. "We that have been the targets of hate should not let our Asian American brothers and sisters stand this alone."

"It's infuriating when the authorities question a 21-year-old madman as to his motivations when we can see clear as day that if you go into an Asian business in an Asian community, you know exactly who you will find behind those doors," mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said.

Watch John Dias' report --

Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate, the nation's leading group addressing anti-Asian discrimination, says the organization has received more than 3,700 reports of racism since last March.

Hongyu Wang told CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas he was targeted on his way home from Fordham Law School on Saturday evening while rushing to catch a bus at the Port Authority Terminal.

"Somebody out of nowhere from behind me and, out of nowhere, poured a carton of milk on my head. I had no clue what was happening, and I was in shock," he said.

He believes he was targeted because he is Asian.

Drenched in milk, he said nobody helped, not even Port Authority Police.

"There was no urgency," Wang said. "I was just completely dissatisfied about the Port Authority Police response."

He says he's too scared to take the bus and now drives to school.

"Considering I live in New Jersey ... and the tolls are pretty high and the parking in Manhattan is pretty expensive, but that's something I have to eat up to protect my own safety," he said.

Wang did file a report. CBS2 reached out to the Port Authority but have not heard back.

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In New York City, NYPD numbers show 29 cases were reported in 2020 -- 24 of which were attributed to "coronavirus motivation." So far this year, the department has reported 10 cases, but the commissioner said others may not have been reported.

"In some instances in some communities, whether it's culture or other issues, that that may be a little higher," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Thursday.

Meanwhile in Washington, the House Judiciary is holding a hearing on the discrimination and violence Asian Americans face, exploring ways to prevent racially motivated acts.

Watch Jessica Layton's report -- 

"Our community is bleeding, we are in pain, and for the last year we have been screaming out for help," said Congresswoman Grace Meng.

The words of the congresswoman from Queens were emotional and raw, directed at times toward lawmakers who have tied the coronavirus to Asian culture with hurtful rhetoric.

"By putting a bullseye on the back of Asian Americans across this country," Meng said. "This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community."

That powerful moment came after Republican Rep. Chip Roy, of Texas, said policing speech goes down a dangerous road.

"We shouldn't be worried about having a committee of members of Congress policing our rhetoric," he said.

Back in New York, the police commissioner encourages people in the Asian American community to come forward if they have been a victim of a crime.

"Trying to build that bridge with the community and getting people comfortable and making them aware of why it's so important to report any incidents of hate, whether it's speech, whether it's harassment or whether it's a violent crime," Shea said.

CBS2's John Dias, Aundrea Cline-Thomas and Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

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