Coronavirus Fear? Suspected hate crime targeting Asian man caught on camera

SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Disturbing new video shows what appears to be a racially-motivated crime sparked by fear over the coronavirus.

The video shows a man on a New York City subway train arguing with a fellow passenger who is Asian, then spraying Febreeze air freshener at that passenger.

Much of the incident was recorded on a cellphone by another passenger and posted on social media.

The NYPD is now investigating the case as a possible hate crime.

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It happened Wednesday morning on the N train in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

"I am just disturbed when I see these bigoted attacks against our Asian brothers and sisters and our Asian New Yorkers," said public advocate Jumaane Williams.

The video shows the suspect yelling at the fellow passenger, "Tell him to move... because he is standing right (expletive) next to me!"

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Moments later the suspect picks up a bottle of Febreze and sprays it toward the man.

In a second video, the Asian passenger confronts the man, asking, "Why can't I sit next to you?"

The suspect responds, "You're being dumb right now."

MTA Chairman Pat Foye said the incident was wrong and he hopes the perpetrator is caught.

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The incident is now being investigated by the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force.

And officials are encouraging anyone who faces the kind of discrimination and harassment that appears to be displayed in the video to come forward.

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"We have been begging for years and years, please tell us - whatever it is," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We know hate crimes are under reported. We want all the reportings. It's absolutely crucial to stop these crimes."

"I want to emphasize right now to all New Yorkers, it is absolutely unacceptable to discriminate against Asian individuals and Asian communities in the midst of this crisis," de Blasio added.

The NYPD says someone did call 911, but since it happened on a train, the suspect was gone by the time officers arrived.

They are hoping the video will lead them the suspect.


RELATED INFORMATION:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts from the Department of Health can answer questions regarding the novel coronavirus.
New York State information about coronavirus

New York City information about coronavirus

John Hopkins' coronavirus tracking dashboard

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