New York City police are investigating an anti-Asian assault in Manhattan amid a rise in hate crimes across the United States.
A woman is wanted for allegedly making anti-Asian remarks at four people and attacking them with pepper spray Saturday, the New York City Police Department said. The department's hate crimes task force released a photograph and video of the suspect and is asking for the public's help in identifying the woman.
In the video, which has no audio, the suspect can be seen holding what appears to be a canister of pepper spray before deploying it.
The NYPD said the incident unfolded just after 6 p.m. near Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The victims refused medical attention at the scene, police said.
The alleged attack comes as the U.S. has seen a rise in hate crimes, including those targeting the Asian American community.
An analysis of hate crime data published earlier this year by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian hate crimes had increased by 339 percent last year compared with the year before, with New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities surpassing their record numbers in 2020.
The increase was part of an overall 11 percent rise in suspected hate crimes reported to police across a dozen of the largest cities in the U.S., with the report finding that Black Americans remained the most targeted group in most cities.
According to the NYPD's hate crimes dashboard, between March 31, 2021, and March 31 of this year, 110 of 577 reported hate crime incidents targeted victims of Asian descent.
Police have described the suspect in Saturday's attack as a woman likely in her 50s and around 5 feet 3 inches tall. She was last seen wearing a multicolored orange dress, with a pink scarf around her shoulders and was wearing sunglasses.
Police are asking anyone with information on the incident to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS or to get in touch over Twitter at @NYPDTips.