A video on Twitter has detectives investigating a possible hate crime, after a subway passenger was seen berating an Asian man before spraying him with air freshener.
The video shows the altercation on the N train in Brooklyn, with the angry straphanger yelling at the man to move away from him — an apparent act of discrimination based on the man's ethnicity. The Asian community has seen an uptick in racist incidents against them since the outbreak of COVID-19, which began in China.
"I don't want him under me!" the man is heard exclaiming in the expletive-laced video. "Tell him to move!"
The subject of his tirade was an Asian man who appeared to be minding his own business on the train, and said nothing back to the man during the rant, and didn't move.
When the passenger doesn't do what the enraged man told him to, the man sprays the air freshener Febreze in his direction for about 15 seconds.
The short video has led the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force to launch an investigation in the event the MTA called an example of "racism." Many who saw the video agreed with the transit agency's description.
"I find it really unfortunate that we are being targeted without doing anything, and that’s really sad," said passenger Kimberly Hua.
The Asian-American community has reported seeing an economic impact as a result of misinformation and xenophobia surrounding the coronavirus.
"I think there’s an idea floating around, somehow, that people should stay away from Chinatown, and things of that nature," said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. "I think it’s all based on misinformation [and] latent prejudice."
Police were called to the scene, but when they arrived the train was gone. An investigation is ongoing.