Woman Walking to Anti-Asian Violence Protest in NYC Punched in Possible Hate Crime

Police tape
Getty Images

"As soon as she saw her mom being put on the gurney, that's when she started crying. It was heartbreaking," witness Rita Chan told the outlet.

A woman was punched in the face – twice – while on her way to protest anti-Asian violence Sunday, and the NYPD is now investigating it as a possible hate crime, according to reports.

The victim, 37, was walking on Astor Place near Fourth Avenue in Manhattan around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday when the suspect asked if he could "have your sign," the New York Post reported. She was reportedly holding a sign that read, "Hate Has No Peace," to bring to the protests, the New York Daily News reported.

In response, the victim said he could have it but asked what he would use it for. The suspect then reportedly tried to place the sign in the garbage, but ended up placing it on the ground stomping it, according to the outlets. When asked by the victim why he did that, he allegedly proceeded to punch her twice in the face, the outlet reported.

The victim tried to follow the suspect but he took off towards the subway station, according to a video of the incident. She was taken to a local hospital for a cut and bruising on her lip, as well as a sprained ankle as a result of chasing the alleged assailant, the Post reported.

The victim's 7-year-old daughter witnessed the entire altercation, another witness told the Gothamist

"As soon as she saw her mom being put on the gurney, that's when she started crying. It was heartbreaking," witness Rita Chan told the outlet.

Erik Deolivera, 27, was arrested and charged late Monday with assault and criminal mischief as a hate crime, the Daily News reported.

The victim told the Daily News that she feels "unsafe" and is "very surprised" that it happened to her. 

Since then, there have been an additional four physical assaults and possible hate crimes against Asians across the city, the New York Times reported. Another Asian woman, just hours after the first attack, was approached by a separate assailant, who smashed her with a metal pipe in Chinatown. She was taken to the hospital for stitches on her nose and a suspect was later arrested, the Daily News reported. He was charged with assault as a hate crime, resisting arrest, harassment, and weapon possession.

Another incident left a 68-year-old man from Sri Lanka in critical condition after a subway passenger yelled a racial slur and proceeded to punch him in the head, according to the Times.

Hate crimes and violence against the Asian community in the country have seen a dramatic spike in the last year, with an estimated 3,800 incidents recorded since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Xenophobic rhetoric has also risen to concerning levels, according to recent reports.