Four teen girls attacked a 51-year-old Asian woman on a Bronx Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus on March 28 at 3 pm. The girls shouted expletives and racial slurs, accusing the woman of causing the coronavirus. One of the teens then struck the woman with an umbrella. This coronavirus racist attack is one of many being perpetrated by what seem like unlikely perpetrators of hate crimes: children.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) apprehended three of the teens, all 15 years of age, near where the MTA bus incident occurred. The fourth suspect, who has yet to be identified, is pictured above and believed to be the one who caused the umbrella-induced injury. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital, where she received stitches.
Police charged the girls with hate crime assaults, menacing and harassment.
Hate Crimes Increasing
Racially-charged violence has escalated in New York since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Since March, the New York City Human Rights Commission has been investigating a rash of acts against people of Asian descent. Per CNN, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force (HCTF) has investigated 11 cases where Asian victims were targeted since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
Among the perpetrators was a 13-year-old boy who was arrested for hate-crime assault and hate-crime aggravated harassment after allegedly kicking a 59-year-old man of Asian descent, yelling Anti-Asian statements and knocking the man to the ground.
How NYPD Defines a Hate Crime
The NYPD HCTF Twitter account alerts: “HCTF is aware of several COVID-19 related hate crimes being reported. Arrests have been made in most cases. HCTF is fully staffed and vigorously investigating any case that comes in. NYC will not tolerate crimes against any group.”
Their website lays out specifics for what constitutes a hate crime.
“A bias incident is any offense or unlawful act that is motivated in whole or substantial part by a person’s, a group’s or a place’s identification with a particular race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, ancestry, national origin, or sexual orientation (including gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender) as determined by the commanding officer of the Hate Crime Task Force.”
The statement continues, “Hate crimes may have consequences far beyond the criminal act itself. Becoming the victim of a crime is traumatic, but if the act was committed because of who you are or what you believe, the violation is even more hurtful and may cause deep emotional impacts.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo has weighed in on such incidents, as well, saying in a statement, “To be clear: there is zero evidence that people of Asian descent bear any additional responsibility for the transmission of the coronavirus. This incident [one that occurred on March 10] was not only despicable but also illegal, and I am directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation to make sure the assailant is held accountable.”
More recently, victims of hate crimes have been told they can reach out via a hotline by phoning 1-800-771-7755.