NYPD Investigating Coronavirus-Related Subway Incident as Hate Crime

Mayor de Blasio responded to the video, saying it's "absolutely unacceptable to discriminate against Asian individuals and Asian communities."

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The New York City Police Department announced it is investigating an unsettling video of what appears to be a coronavirus-related hate crime.

The incident reportedly took place Wednesday morning on an MTA train in Brooklyn, where a passenger was filmed spraying an air freshener at an Asian commuter. Cell phone footage shows the suspect telling the victim to move; when other passengers question why he's making the demand, the suspect shouts, "Because he's standing right fucking next to me. Tell him to move. Tell him to move."

The aggressor then pulls out a bottle of Febreze and begins to spray it in the victim's direction. 

A second video posted on Facebook shows the victim confronting the man, asking, "Why can't I sit next to you?"

The man responds by telling the victim, "You better move. You better move. ... You're being real dumb right now."

NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison addressed the incident in a press conference Thursday, stating authorities were aware of the video and have launched an investigation. 

The MTA responded to the video by posting a list of ways you can stop the spread of coronavirus: "1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds 2. Cough and sneeze into your elbow 3. Stay home if you’re sick," the tweet read, before ending: "What doesn’t work: 1. Racism."

The incident is the latest example of increased xenophobia and racism in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The deadly disease originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread to nearly 100 countries and territories around the globe. As of Friday, there were 267 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and a total of 14-virus released deaths. 

"We have been begging for years and years, please tell us, whatever it is," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the incident. "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."

Experts say nearly 102,000 people around the world have been infected with the disease, with the death toll currently at 3,462.

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