Chinatown safety patrol: Victim speaks out as community fights back against Asian hate crimes

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Teoh Ming Soon, the victim of an unprovoked attack, still has a black eye from the incident, but will not be silenced.
Photo by Dean Moses

The newly established Chinatown Public Safety Patrol, candidates running for council offices, and the victim of a recent subway attack held a rally at the site of the xenophobic assault on Sunday afternoon.

A large banner reading “Stop hate crimes” was fixed to the entrance of the East Broadway F train station by Rutgers Street just before 1:30 pm by a new Public Safety Patrol, established to help keep the community safe amidst a wave of racially motivated attacks. As a small crowd gathered, speakers—consisting mostly of city council candidates—joined Teoh Ming Soon, the victim of an unprovoked attack to both denounce hate crimes and to ask community members to look out for one another.

According to Edwin Wong—candidate for New York City Council District 29—many crimes, especially racially motivated attacks, go unreported, and in turn unpunished, due to language barriers. Wong believes that hate crime statistics are far larger than registered and is therefore calling on victims to report any crime they face and not to be afraid to come forward.

Soon certainly showed he was not afraid. On what was to be his last day at work after losing his job to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 2nd, a man wearing a red balaclava waited for Soon to pass before unleashing a flurry of elbows and wild punches. This brutal, unprovoked attack left the Malaysian immigrant unconscious and badly bruised. Still, Soon believed he needed to speak out and raise awareness.

Members of the Public Safety Patrol displayed images of the attacker. Photo by Dean Moses

“If you become a victim of a crime, you must report it to the police. Without reporting, there will be more victims,” Soon said with the help of a translator.

Soon also described that his attacker remained silent throughout, giving no indication for the outburst. Although the man who left him hospitalized did not speak out, Soon says he will, “The most important thing is to not be silent. You must voice your situation. If we do not say anything, we will continue to be the silent minority,” Soon said.

Soon pointed to where the attack happened as he shared his story. Photo by Dean Moses

Despite still sporting a black eye, Soon added that he is not frightened to come forward. Fellow speakers at the rally echoed the man’s sentiment: “Report the crimes.” In addition to reporting, Christopher Marte, candidate for New York City Council District 1 says it is also incumbent on fellow residents to aid each other in this uncertain time.

“Encourage your friends, encourage your neighbors. If you see anyone with injury, be a supportive person for them to communicate with. We won’t stop this if we don’t know where it is happening and who is conducting it,” Marte said.

With these ideals in mind, the Chinatown Public Safety Group will be donating their time to keep keen eyes on the community and while looking for fellow volunteers to help address neighborhood safety concerns. To find out more or to join the patrol, you can visit their Instagram account @public_safety_patrol.

Christopher Marte (left), candidate for New York City Council District 1, and others are urging members of the community to report hate crimes.Photo by Dean Moses