A man who punched an Asian woman headed to a protest against anti-Asian violence in New York City has been arrested.
The incident occurred while the woman was walking with her daughter near 51 Astor Place in Lower Manhattan at 11:37 a.m. on Sunday.
The man allegedly approached the victim and snatched the protest sign she was holding. He then punched her in front of her child.
“The individual attempted to place the sign into a garbage can but then placed the sign on the ground and stomped on it. When the victim asked the male why he did that, he punched her twice in the face with a closed fist,” the New York Police Department said, according to NBC News.
WANTED for HATE CRIME ASSAULT : On Sunday March 21, 2021 @ 11:37 A.M. in the vicinity of 51 Astor Pl. @nypd9pct during an Anti-Asian Violence Protest , a protester carrying anti violence sign was approached by a male suspect and assaulted . Any info call us @ 800-577-TIPS pic.twitter.com/FBMxOdvqgd
— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) March 22, 2021
The suspect reportedly fled to the nearby Astor Place subway station. Some witnesses chased him and managed to film him up close.
Meanwhile, the victim sustained minor injuries and was taken by an ambulance. A witness recalled her daughter crying.
“I can’t stop thinking about the little girl and how she sat silent and frozen until they took her mom into an ambulance. That’s when she started sobbing,” user @ProducedbyRita wrote on Twitter.
New York police described the suspect as approximately 6 feet and 1 inch tall, weighing 200 pounds, with a medium complexion, slim build and black hair. He was last seen wearing a red Chicago Bulls hooded sweatshirt, a black baseball hat, a black face mask, blue jeans, black sneakers, and carrying a green backpack.
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On Monday, police announced the arrest of Erick Deoliveira, 27, in connection with the incident. He was charged with a hate crime assault and criminal mischief as a hate crime.
The victim, who sustained bruises and lacerations on her face, remains on crutches after also spraining her ankle in the incident.
“I feel unsafe at the moment and I’m very surprised it happened to me as well,” the victim told the New York Daily News. “That means this kind of incident is happening commonly right now . . . It’s racism. It should be getting better.”
Other witnesses claimed Deoliveira appeared to be emotionally disturbed. “He also flashed people on the train platform. He dropped his underwear and showed his genitalia to everyone on the platform,” DeVonn Francis told WABC.
The attack remains under investigation by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.