Noel Quintana said he was slashed across the face.
“When I was attacked on the subway, there were so many New Yorkers around me, but nobody came to my help, nobody made a video,” the 61-year old Filipino American said.
“I was scared I wasn’t going to make it. … We are all New Yorkers, and we should be looking out for each other.”
Quintana, a New Yorker, described the February 3 attack to city leaders, Asian Americans and their supporters who attended the “Rise Up Against Anti-Asian Hate” rally in Foley Square on Saturday.
“Stop Asian hate!” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the crowd. “This is the message we have to get out, not just in New York City, but all over this country: Stop Asian hate! Stop it now!”
The rally was held to protest a wave of attacks on Asian Americans, including a large number of elderly people. The stabbing of a 36-year-old Asian American man on Thursday is the latest reported incident in New York City. Similar incidents are being reported across the nation.
US Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told the crowd there were signs of a surge in violence at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tragically, those warnings came to fruition and the Asian American community, across New York and the country, have been the target of race-based discrimination and harassment,” Schumer said.
New York Attorney General Letitia James encouraged individuals at the rally to report hate crimes to her office.
“Come to my office so we can report on these individuals who hate us, so we can shut them down. Any attack on one of us is an attack against all of us,” James said.
Pearl Sun, a New York City resident, attended the rally but didn’t speak to the crowd. She told CNN she’s now wary when walking in the city streets.
“I have to tell you that I walk out the door and I brace myself, I prepare myself,” she said. “I make sure I no longer listen to music, when I’m walking around. I no longer listen to podcasts. … I want to make sure I pay attention to what, or whatever might be happening around me.”
“I think the rhetoric from our previous administration was definitely the catalyst for all of this. Anti-Asian sentiment has always existed, and we’ve had a lot of legislation in the past that has not been good for us either: the Japanese internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
“It’s been an ongoing situation, but the previous rhetoric has amped up all of his hate, calling it the kung flu virus and the China virus, and we are sadly, seemingly an easy target.”
Sun said the rhetoric had amplified the hate, especially in instances involving elderly Asian Americans.
“They are defenseless, and it’s cowardly, and it angers me, it really angers me,” Sun said.
City resident Will Lex Ham said many of his family live in fear and anxiety. He said the Asian community does not receive resources in proportion to its population in the city, state and nation.
“We’re just tired. We’re tired of like being scapegoated for many of the problems of the pandemic. We’re tired of being ignored,” Ham said.
Reports of attacks on the rise
The rally was hosted by the Asian American Federation, an umbrella organization that advocates for better policies and services for Asian Americans.
The federation says there were “nearly 500 bias incidents or hate crimes in 2020, ranging from verbal to physical assaults, to being coughed at or spat upon, to shunning, among other forms of discrimination.”
Those numbers were collected by the AAF, the advocacy group Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) Hate, the NYPD and the NYC Commission on Human Rights, according to the AAF.
“However, these are a fraction of the actual number of incidents that have occurred, as the majority of incidents go unreported. For example, over 90% of the reports collected by AAF were not reported to either the NYPD or NYC Commission on Human Rights,” the AAF said in a news release.
In contrast, the NYPD said there were 29 reported racially-motivated crimes against people of Asian descent in 2020 in New York City, and 24 of those were attributed to “coronavirus motivation.” Racially motivated crimes against people of Asian descent in 2019 totaled three.