A 23-year-old woman and a 59-year-old man of Asian descent in New York City were attacked this week in what authorities are investigating as possible hate crimes.
The first incident occurred Tuesday when a student at the Zoni Language School in Midtown Manhattan was punched by another woman who said, "Where's your corona mask, you Asian -----." Police say the alleged attacker is a student at the Empire Beauty School, located in the same building as the victim's school, and knows the victim.
Witnesses say the attack came after a fight that stemmed from the commotion during a fire drill. Students who know the alleged attacker tell NBC New York that she's not a person who would discriminate against anyone.
Police say no arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing.
"To be clear: there is zero evidence that people of Asian descent bear any additional responsibility for the transmission of the coronavirus," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday. "This incident 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."
The Asian community has seen an uptick in racist incidents against them since the outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, but has since become a pandemic with Europe as the new epicenter.
In another incident on Tuesday night, police say a suspect approached a 59-year-old man of Asian descent on Madison Avenue in East Harlem and made anti-Asian statements.
However, the word "coronavirus" was not said during the attack, according to police.
The suspect then kicked the victim, causing him to fall to the ground, before fleeing in an unknown direction, according to police. Authorities on Thursday released a photo of the person wanted for question in regards to the incident:
The NYPD's hate crime unit is also investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).