On Tuesday, members and allies of the New York City Asian American community staged a rally in Chinatown to condemn the recent surge of violent crimes targeting Asians.
Local residents and activists took to the streets following the death of 62-year-old GuiYing Ma, the fourth Asian person to die to violence in the city in the last two months.
Ma fell into a coma in November after 33-year-old Elisaul Perez allegedly bashed her head with a rock as she was sweeping her friend’s sidewalk blocks away from her own apartment.
Perez was originally charged with felony assault and harassment before Ma died on Feb. 22 due to permanent brain damage.
Her passing came just weeks after 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee was stabbed to death in her Chinatown apartment allegedly by 25-year-old Assamad Nash, a homeless man who followed her home. Nash is now facing murder charges.
In January, Michelle Go,
40, was shoved in front of an oncoming Times Square station subway train by suspect Simon Martial
, 61, who has a criminal record dating back over two decades.
In the same month as Go’s death, 61-year-old Yao Pan Ma died while in a coma
that resulted from being repeatedly stomped in the head eight months earlier while he was collecting cans in Harlem. The charges against the suspect in the attack, Jarrod Powell
, 50, have been upgraded to murder.
Demonstrators held their rally on Grand Street, just a block away from Lee’s home.
Jacky Wong of Concerned Citizens of East Broadway told Gothamist, “We don’t want to be ignored, because we feel like our risk is not recognized.”
Participants at the rally reportedly carried signs that read, “We Demand Real Solutions for Homeless and Mental” and “Save Chinatown: Our Risk is Real.”
Speakers at the gathering discussed the connection between the attacks and homelessness in the area, with some calling for better crime prevention efforts and tougher enforcement.
The city’s initiative to place homeless shelters within the neighborhood has been a point of contention among local residents.
In a separate rally in January, Asian American demonstrators expressed concerns about the rising population of mentally ill and homelessness in their neighborhood.
“This is not perception. This is the reality we Asian Americans facing [sic] every day. When we are in the subway, we are being cursed, being spit on, being pushed. We are in our neighborhood being stabbed, being attacked,” Justin Yu, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, was quoted as saying.
The group is urging the city to reconsider plans for adding more homeless shelters in the area.