An Asian American woman has lodged a police report against a white woman who allegedly told her to go back to China.
The incident, which was partially caught on video, occurred near East 22nd Street and 1st Avenue at 1:25 p.m. on March 14.
Maria Ha, 25, said she was walking to a photoshoot when the unidentified woman came close to her face and stared her down.
“She says, ‘You’re not from here. Go back to communist China, b*tch.’ I was honestly in shock and didn’t know how to react,” Ha told NextShark.
Ha’s husband, Daniel Lee, arrived just in time to confront the woman, who tried to flee the scene in a taxi. He took out his camera and started recording.
“Honestly, I felt that enough was enough, especially with all the madness going on with Asians being targeted with constant hate crimes,” Lee told NextShark. “These things need to be called out and people need to know that they can’t get away with this. This is not the norm and people need to know that.”
In the video posted on Instagram, the woman is seen trying to close the cab’s door, which Lee holds onto to prevent her from escaping.
She then yells, “You’re assaulting me! Leave me alone!”
Ha and Lee eventually walked away, but the woman allegedly yelled “Go back to communist China, b*tch!” for a second time — with witnesses reportedly hearing it.
The woman’s remarks led to a second confrontation, which was also caught on video.
“Did you just say ‘Go back to communist China, b*tch?’” Lee asks.
“Well isn’t that where you’re from?” the woman replies.
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Ha said the cab driver asked the woman to get out this time. But she allegedly offered to pay double to get out of the scene.
“We mention that she’s on camera and starts covering her face. At this point, I want to make sure people know there is zero tolerance for this type of behavior and cannot be condoned,” Ha wrote in her Instagram post.
The couple managed to capture the license plate of the NYC Yellow Cab. Bystanders also reached out to them to help in their testimony.
A complaint report for harassment has been filed with the New York Police Department. The agency confirmed the incident in a statement to NextShark.
Ha and Lee decided to share their experience to help increase awareness of attacks against Asian Americans. They urged others to start speaking up. There needs to be an end to the silence of Asians in the face of hate and issues that arise in society, they told NextShark.
“We need to speak up and voice our opinion about all the hate going on right now. We need to make sure there is an end to this,” they said. “By making sure there is exposure, judgement, and punishment for the racist lady’s malicious, racist actions, I hope that we can progress toward this goal of ending this hate.”
The couple also added they hoped bystanders would instead become allies and speak up as well.
“We understand it is challenging to get involved in situations like this, but we think having visible allies and showing these perpetrators that they’re the odd man or woman out in these situations is important,” they said.
NextShark has reached out to the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) which directed us to the NYPD and the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) for further comment. We will update this article accordingly.
Feature Image Screenshots via Maria Ha