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NYPD investigating allegation that man spit at Asian woman in Fresh Meadows, calling her ‘Chinese virus’

Sunnyside residents hold a rally against anti-Asian hate crimes on March 6, 2021. (File photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

The NYPD’s Asian Hate Crimes Task Force has launched an investigation into a possible hate crime incident that occurred in Fresh Meadows on Tuesday, March 9, after an Asian American mother said she was spit at and called the “Chinese virus” while holding her 2-year-old baby.

The 25-year-old woman told police that an unidentified man spit in her direction three times before calling her the derogatory term on the morning of Tuesday, March 9, at 186th Street and Peck Avenue near Kissena Corridor Park. 

Police say there were no reported injuries and that no arrests have been made at this time. Authorities are currently investigating the alleged confrontation as an aggravated assault. The unidentified suspect is described as a man in his 30s who weighs about 200 pounds and is approximately 5 feet, 5 inches tall. 

The incident is the latest attack on Asian Americans in New York City. For the past year the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has felt fearful and marginalized, according to Sandra Lee, president and CEO of Korean American Community Services (KCS) in Bayside. 

“To be honest, this has been a problem for a while that is only now getting attention,” Lee said. “That idea that a young mother and her baby could be targeted in our city based on their race horrifies me. That could easily have been me, a loved one or any of my community members.” 

According to Lee, KCS will continue to support the community by providing counseling, senior services and physical safe spaces, and they’re aware of discussions about neighborhood watch and senior accompaniment programs. 

“We need to see real steps taken so that AAPI New Yorkers, particularly our seniors, feel safe in their own neighborhoods,” Lee said. 

One year ago, Councilman Peter Koo had issued a statement decrying the use of the term “Chinese virus” by former President Donald Trump and other public officials when referring to COVID-19. According to Koo, the term has been normalized and weaponized.

“Back then, too many people in positions of power masked their own racism and brushed aside the fears of the Asian community, and yet here we are one year later suffering from almost daily attacks that often contain those same racist words: ‘Chinese virus,'” Koo said. “Our community will continue to denounce hate speech and attacks wherever they arise, and we refuse to accept this as a new normal. Continued crimes like this show just how important it is that the Asian Hate Crime Task Force is fully funded, and that it remains an integral part of our city’s police force.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng, who has been bringing awareness to the issue, said she was “appalled and furious” to learn about the disturbing incident that occurred in her district. 

“This is the epitome of disgusting and cowardice behavior,” Meng said. “Unfortunately, there are no suspects. I’m urging folks who may have seen what happened to come forward and talk. We can only stop such incidents from happening in the future if we stand together and condemn anti-Asian hate and sentiment.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards shared Meng’s Twitter post denouncing the incident.

“Queens is sick and tired of hateful, anti-Asian garbage like this permeating our borough. What cowards who commit these acts don’t know, however, is that they only strengthen our resolve to #StopAsianHate once and for all,” Richards wrote on Twitter. 

The investigation is ongoing.

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