Three teenage girls in New York have been charged with hate crimes after they allegedly attacked a 51-year-old woman who was riding on a bus in the Bronx.
Police say the incident began around 3 p.m. on March 28 when three teenage girls and another female of an unknown age approached the woman and began making anti-Asian statements and accusing her of causing the coronavirus outbreak. Then, the four teenagers demanded to know why the woman why wasn't wearing a mask. One of the suspects then allegedly used an umbrella to strike the woman's head before all four fled the bus, police said.
The victim went to a hospital where she received stitches for a cut on her head, the NYPD said in a statement.
Shortly after the incident, police were able to catch up with the three 15-year-old girls near the scene. They were arrested and charged with hate crime assaults, menacing and harassment. Police are still searching for a fourth suspect, who they believe is the person who struck the woman with the umbrella. The department posted a photo of the suspect to their Twitter page, asking for anyone to come forward who might have information on their identity.
The incident has highlighted some of the prejudice and fear-mongering that has erupted around the coronavirus pandemic. According to the New York Police Department, their Hate Crime Task Force has investigated at least 11 cases in which people of Asian descent were targeted due to the coronavirus since the outbreak began.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a hotline for New York residents who can report hate crimes and bias incidents against Asian Americans. People can call 1-800-771-7755 to report any incidents.
Photo: New York Police Department