Video shows passenger defending Asian woman facing racism on New York subway

"You're Chinese, why did you bring corona to America?" a passenger asks a woman, prompting another rider to step in.
Image: An empty subway train is seen during the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York City
An empty subway train during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.Jeenah Moon / Reuters

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By Wilson Wong

Emily Chen was riding the subway home in New York when a male passenger started making offensive remarks and another stepped in to defend her.

In a video she shared Sunday on Facebook, a passenger can be heard saying, "You're Chinese, why did you bring corona to America?" A second passenger appears to interrupt the man's tirade, telling him to stop bothering her.

"Thank you so much for protecting me," Chen said in response.

The passenger continued to yell expletives at Chen for recording the exchange, while the other rider blocked him from getting closer.

"Luckily, no one got hurt," Chen said, giving credit to the other rider for de-escalating the situation.

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The incident comes after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's condemnation of the uptick in xenophobic discrimination directed at Asian communities, which he called "unacceptable."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement last week that he was "disgusted" to hear about a recent assault on a 23-year-old woman of Asian descent.

"No one in this state should ever feel intimidated or threatened because of who they are or how they look," he said.

The passenger who defended Chen has not been identified.

"This isn't any time to BLAME others or find some reason to hurt others," Chen said in the Facebook post. "Be an upstander."