The New York Police Department is searching for a woman who is accused of launching a racist tirade against two Asian Americans.
Earlier this week, 25-year-old Maria Ha shared a video showing a heated exchanged that took place Sunday afternoon near East 22nd Street and First Avenue. The video was taken by Ha’s husband, 31-year-old Dan Lee, who is seen confronting the woman as she sits in the back of a taxi.
“I was on my way to a photoshoot this afternoon when this woman comes up very close to my face, makes direct eye contact (stare down) with me and says ‘You’re not from here. Go back to communist China bitch,’” Ha wrote on Instagram. “I was honestly shocked and didn’t really know how to react.”
Ha told WABC her husband arrived shortly after.
“Oh hell no, there have been way too many of these incidents,” Lee said. “So I just like opened the door, and I’m like, ‘Did you say that? Did you say that?’ She just started yelling, ‘Oh, you’re assaulting me, you’re assaulting me.’ So I’m like, OK, I’m going to get this on video.”
The footage, which captured a portion of the incident, shows the masked woman repeatedly shouting, “You’re assaulting me!” Lee then turns the camera toward himself and states he is not touching her, though he prevents her from shutting the car door. Lee then goes on to ask if she did, in fact, scream racist remarks about “communist China.” The woman responds with, “Well, isn't that where you’re from?”
“No, it’s not, motherfucker,” Lee responds, before the woman asks where he’s from. “I’m from the U.S.”
According to Ha’s Instagram post, the taxi driver told the woman to get of the vehicle. She reportedly offered to pay him double so she could flee the scene, an offer the driver evidently accepted.
Ha and Lee have since filed a police report and are now calling on the public to help identify the woman. The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident. Those with any information are encouraged to contact the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
The incident comes after a series of attacks on Asian Americans across the country, with many attributing the alarming surge to pandemic-fueled racism and xenophobia. According to Stop AAPI Hate, about 3,800 anti-Asian crimes have been reported since the pandemic was declared more than a year ago.
On Tuesday, Georgia officials arrested a man who is suspected of killing eight people at three different spas in the Atlanta area. Eight of those victims were Asian. The suspect is now facing eight murder charges.