A 38-year-old man was arrested Thursday for allegedly punching an Asian man in Hell's Kitchen and biting off his fingertip after yelling at him to “go back to your country,” police said, and now the victim is speaking out for the first time.
Lloyd Revell was charged with assault as a hate crime in the attack Tuesday morning in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.
Police said the attacker approached a 48-year-old Asian man at the corner of West 43rd Street and 11th Avenue shortly before 10 a.m. and told him to go back to his country, then punched him repeatedly in the face and bit his fingers, severing the middle fingertip on the victim's left hand. The victim was treated at a local hospital.
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Surveillance video from the scene showed a shirtless man. Police said Revell was that man. It wasn't clear if Revell had an attorney who could comment on the charge against him.
The address Revell gave police is a hotel near where the attack occurred that has been used as a homeless shelter during the coronavirus pandemic.
The victim, Youya Hwa, remains hospitalized for cuts to his forehead and a swollen eye, in addition to the severed fingertip. While his face and body are bruised, Hwa said that his sense of security has been shattered.
"Yeah, so scary, I can't stay outside," he said in a phone interview with NBC New York. He insisted that he didn't say or do anything to Revell before the violent attack.
An investigation by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force into the incident is ongoing.
Newly released police data shows a startling rise in crimes targeting Asians. Through May 2, hate crimes against Asians are up 400 percent in 2021 as compared to the same time period in 2020. Hate crimes in general are up 73 percent.
In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes bill, which was co-sponsored by Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng in reaction to the sharp increase in anti-Asian crimes nationwide. The law calls for a point person at the U.S. Department of Justice to expedite COVID-related hate rimes, and is geared to make it easier to report hate crimes, including a way to report online.