2021 saw another wave of anti-Asian hate crimes on the subway

The number of reported anti-Asian incidents on the subway jumped last year, according to NYPD data, accounting for more than a third of all bias crimes in the system.

Until the end of November – the latest figures provided by the Hate Crimes Task Force – 30 of 84 reported incidents of prejudice on the subway targeted Asians, a 233% increase from 2020, when only nine were reported. identified.

Ugly encounters on the subway reflect a significant increase in hate crimes across the city since 2019, with the NYPD reporting in December that anti-Asian incidents were up 361% from the previous year.

In the subway, police say the victims were beaten, pushed in front of oncoming trains, spat at them and slapped with racist slurs – and advocates say the numbers are only starting to reflect the full picture. hatred directed at Asian passengers, estimating that only 10% to 30% of violent incidents are reported to law enforcement.

“There is a huge underreporting,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation. “The challenge is that very few people come forward. “

Meanwhile, a man who allegedly fatally attacked an Asian woman at a Canal Street station last July was not hit with a hate crime when he was charged with manslaughter in November.

Traumatized underground

Fear has kept Potri Ranka Manis from entering the metro since August 10, when the Filipino nurse said she was hit on the head and told to “Go back to China, your dirty country.” ! While trying to hand out masks to a couple on an E train bound for Queens.

A police account of the incident says Manis had his cell phone stolen and punched several times in the head after pulling the phone out to register the two unmasked individuals, who fled.

Her husband is now driving her to work in Manhattan from their home in Queens.

“I’m so afraid it will cause trauma,” Manis, 67, told LA VILLE. “Going alone on the subway gives me a chill, which is so bad because it keeps me from doing my job. “

Manis, a Department of Health nurse, said she had teamed up with organizations in Queens to distribute masks on the subway since the start of the pandemic.

Potri Ranka Manis, 67, in his job at 74th St.-Roosevelt Ave. in Queens.
Hiram Alejandro Durán / THE CITY

“People have been so happy when I give them masks and they wear them immediately,” she said. “But when I offered the masks from my shopping bag to the couple sitting next to me, the man grabbed my mask and said, ‘Mind your own business, ch—. “

Figures provided to the MTA board of directors by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force show that the number of reported anti-Asian incidents increased from April 4 to May 9, with at least 15 occurring during this period.

“Intolerable,” MTA board member Robert Linn told THE TOWN. “A disgusting legacy of the Trump era to which all of our leaders must respond fiercely. ”

In 2020, the MTA launched a “Hate Has No Place” campaign with signs and advertisements designed to discourage incidents of bias.

Last year, hate crimes on the subway based on sexual orientation and against whites increased by a higher percentage than anti-Asian incidents, according to NYPD figures, although there are far fewer .

“Hatred of any kind has no place in the transit system and keeping our customers safe is a top priority,” said Demetrius Crichlow, senior vice president of New York City Subways Transit, in a press release to THE CITY. “In an effort to deter attacks, security cameras are operating at all 472 metro stations, and earlier this year, the MTA updated its anti-hate public messages campaign with ads created specifically to fight against them. anti-Asian motivated crimes. “

THE CITY reported last spring that older Asian New Yorkers have especially become more vulnerable to harassment during the pandemic.

Incidents of bias on the subway included an April encounter at a Queens station in which an Asian undercover police officer was attacked on a platform at the 39th Avenue-Dutch Kills stop by a man who reportedly shouted about “you people” before pushing the officer.

On December 1, police said, a 58-year-old woman was slapped in the face at 174th St. station in the Bronx by a man who made an anti-Chinese statement. And on November 27, police said, a 54-year-old woman was beaten with the handlebars of a bicycle by a man who shouted anti-Asian slurs at her inside the 116th Street stop on the road. line n ° 1.

A 46-year-old man from Manhattan faces charges of gun possession and assault as a hate crime for the November 27 handlebar beating, police said.

“A small box with no escape”

Yoo, of the Asian American Federation, said subway riders should “keep an eye on each other” on trains.

“I’m not lost on the fact that you’re underground in a little box with no way out,” she said.

NYPD figures show 1,746 criminal complaints in the transit system as of December 26 – a 0.4% increase from 2020, when daily ridership collapsed at the start of the pandemic.

NYPD crime statistics reported to the MTA board of directors show the number of criminal assaults on the subway system last year peaked in more than two decades, surpassing 400 for the first time. times since 1997.

The NYPD increased the police presence on the subway in May 2021 after repeated calls from the MTA for more officers at stations. Janno Lieber, president and acting CEO of MTA, said last month that the transit agency was now pushing for officers to be parked in parts of the transit system where passengers feel the most. vulnerable.

Manis said the presence of more passengers and police was not enough for her to return to the metro.

“It’s a scary time,” Yoo said. “I know a lot of Asian essential workers are still afraid to go to work because they are always afraid to take the subway.”

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