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Asian man in coma after NYC attack; police suspect hate crime

By
Don Jacobson
People gather at a Vigil for Peace organized by Asian American Federation in Union Square in New York City on March 19. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
People gather at a Vigil for Peace organized by Asian American Federation in Union Square in New York City on March 19. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- New York City police on Sunday were searching for a man caught on camera repeatedly kicking a 61-year-old Asian man in the head during an attack in the city's East Harlem neighborhood.

Security camera video distributed by police showed a man hurling Chinese immigrant Yao Pan Ma to the street late Friday and kicking him in the head at least six times before stalking away.

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Ma, who was collecting recyclables when he was attacked, was in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator at a New York hospital Sunday with uncertain chances for survival, family members told the New York Daily News.

His wife, Baozhen Chen, said the pair immigrated to the United States from China's Guangdong province two years ago and that Ma had resorted to collecting bottles in September after losing his job in a restaurant due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Police are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime -- the latest in a rising tide of anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. New York alone has seen a 450% increase in such crimes compared to the same period last year, CBS New York reported.

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Last month, another man was caught on video stomping a 65-year-old Asian woman in the head in New York. Brandon Elliot, 38, was charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and one count each of attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault in connection with the attack.

The latest attack brought immediate and widespread condemnations from New York leaders and Asian American advocacy groups.

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"This is outrageous," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. "Make no mistake, we will find the perpetrator, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"Yao Pan Ma was brutally attacked in a public space, yet no witnesses intervened," the Asian American Federation said in a tweet. "We need to urgently invest in empowering New Yorkers [with] upstander training & stronger, community-based solutions, including mental health."

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