A fundraiser was launched this week to help pay the medical bills of a Chinese exchange student slashed last December while walking to school in Queens, New York.
The announcement, made at a press conference held Thursday morning at Assemblyman Ron Kim's office in Queens, comes just days after two men reportedly vandalized a car outside the house where the 16-year-old girl, Jia Jia Liang, was staying. The men allegedly left a note on the car addressed to someone living in the same house as Liang, which said "you [expletive] with the wrong person" and that it would be "an exciting year" for her, according to NBC New York. The note also said Liang was not the intended target. The investigation is on-going.
Wearing masks to conceal their identity, Liang and her mother appeared at the press conference and answered some questions, Kim told NBC News.
Kim said it will likely take a full year before Liang recovers and that she may need plastic surgery because of her scars. Since Liang is an exchange student and has only been in the United States for eight months, she was ineligible to receive financial assistance from the city or state, according to Kim.
Money raised through GoFundMe will be used to help defray the cost of Liang's medical bills, Kim said.
"It could have been any Asian teenager walking down the street," said Kim, whose Queens' district is home to many Asian Americans.
According to Kim, the Dec. 16 attack on Liang, who was slashed in the neck and cheek by a man wearing a surgical mask and gloves, came one day after Kim had sent a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department expressing concern over whether there was a pattern of attacks against Asians. Kim wrote the letter, he said, following the Nov. 29 stabbing of playwright David Henry Hwang in Brooklyn.
An email sent Thursday to the NYPD seeking comment about Kim's letter and whether Asians were being targeted as part of a larger crime pattern was not returned.
Kim said he and his wife visited Liang after she was sent home from the hospital with more than 200 stitches. At the time, she couldn't speak because of her injuries, he said, but she was able to write down her thoughts on a piece of paper. Kim said he asked Liang if she wanted to return home to China, to which the teen responded "no" without any hesitation. Liang added that she wanted to stay here and finish up her education, Kim said.
"I think what she said as a 16-year-old, it resonated with me and my wife," Kim said. "She represents the best part of what our immigrant community is."