Andrew Yang was deep on the campaign trail Tuesday morning helping hand out produce from a pop-up food pantry outside the St. Ann & and the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn when he spoke on the most recent assault of an elderly Asian New Yorker the previous day, in Midtown.
The 65-year-old woman was beaten by a man with an unprovoked kick to the stomach, which sent the senior sailing to the concrete sidewalk on 43rd Street and 9th Avenue. The stranger then proceeded to punt the woman in the head and face, all in plain view of a luxury apartment building employee, who did nothing except for closing the glass entranceway door. The employee has since been suspended.
As an Asian American at the forefront of an extremely competitive mayoral race, Yang is looked upon by many to use his voice as both a prospective elected official and as an Asian man to speak on the issue which is causing ripples of fear to spread throughout the city. Yang said this attack particularly disturbed him due to its proximity to his own family.
“Like so many other people I woke up to horrifying video of an Asian woman being brutally beaten for no reason other than her race,” Yang said. “An elderly Asian woman walking the streets of Hell’s Kitchen could easily have been my mother because that is where we live and so when I saw this video that is who I thought of. My children actually play in that playground across the street from that apartment building regularly, so seeing this happen in my neighborhood hit very close to home.”
The mayoral candidate also referenced the bystanders who witnessed the incident but did nothing to aid the victim, calling it “disheartening.” These xenophobic-fueled acts of violence have spread throughout the city and country like wildfire, with new reports seemingly happening every day. As word of each new attack spreads, so does an increased layer of fear that permeates Asian American lives, making many feel—especially the elderly—afraid to leave their homes.
amNewYork Metro asked Yang if he had a message for those fearful to walk the streets.
“We can’t let fear keep us from seeing our families, enjoying our neighborhoods, feeling part of the community. What I would say to Asian Americans who have this sense of fear — I understand it would be impossible not to feel this way — but we can’t let fear win. We can reach out to our friends and families and say instead of going for a walk individually maybe walk with someone, maybe it is a reason to connect with someone. There is no reason for us to give into fear, but we can adapt and do things that makes us feel more secure and more comfortable,” Yang told amNewYork Metro.
Yang also stated that it is important to further fund the Asian Hate Crime Task Force, and to always report a hate crime when it happens.