New York man charged with hate crimes for attacks on seven Asian American women

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has announced hate crime charges relating to assaults against seven Asian American women in New York City in February.

Steven Zajonc, 28, has been charged in New York state supreme court with six felony counts of assault in the third degree as a hate crime and seven counts of aggravated harassment in the second degree as a misdemeanor hate crime.

On 27 February, it is alleged, Zajonc punched, shoved and elbowed seven Asian women in Manhattan without provocation.

The first attack occurred at 6.30pm in midtown, when a 57-year-old Asian woman was punched in the face. The woman suffered swelling to her left cheek and a cut lip, authorities said.

Zajonc is alleged to have approached a 25-year-old Asian woman near Fifth Avenue and East 30th Street 10 minutes later, hitting her in the face and the back of the arm.

He is alleged to have repeated the pattern several times over the next hour, hitting young Asian women – aged 21, 25, 19 and 25 – in the face, shoving another woman, aged 20, to the ground near Broadway and East 8th Street, then fleeing westward.

Zajonc was arrested a few days later outside a library in midtown Manhattan, after two security guards recognized him from surveillance videos.

“These attacks on seven New York women, each fueled by anti-Asian hate, are yet another sobering reminder of the demonstrable fears AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] communities, particularly AAPI women, in our city continue to face,” Bragg said.

“This indictment is a result of our collaboration with the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force and, critically, assistance from the brave witnesses and victims who came forward to stand up against hate. My office is a safe place to report crimes regardless of your immigration status.”

Six of the victims suffered injuries, among them bleeding lacerations and facial bruising. Another was knocked unconscious and treated for concussion.

The Manhattan DA’s office has 27 open hate crime cases related to anti-Asian hate crimes.

Across the US, anti-AAPI hate crime was up 339% last year.

Last August, Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition that tracks and responds to racially motivated hate crimes, said more than 9,000 anti-Asian incidents had been reported since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic spread to the US from China.

New York City has seen an alarming rise in violence against Asian Americans. Four have died.

They were: GuiYing Ma, 62, who was attacked by a man with a rock in Queens; Yao Pan Ma, 61, who was attacked while collecting cans in East Harlem; Michelle Go, 40, who was pushed on to subway tracks at Times Square; and Christina Yuna Lee, 35, who was stabbed 40 times in her Chinatown apartment.

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