Potri Ranka Manis says she was trying to handout free face masks on the New York City subway when she was assaulted and called a racial slur.
“Mind your own business, c***k. You get out of this state, Chinese. Go home to your dirty country,” the 67-year-old Filipina nurse recalls being told last week.
The attack is part of the ongoing wave of anti-Asian bias happening across the United States since last year. A recent report by a coalition tracking racism and discrimination against Asian Americans shows there were at least 4,533 incidents in the first six months of the year and advocates say numerous other attacks have taken place over the summer.
Manis was traveling on the E train on August 10 when she spotted two people who were not wearing face coverings. As a city public health worker, Manis thought she could offer them masks because the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) requires them, she told reporters.
When she approached them, one of them punched her multiple times in the head, according to Manis and a New York Police Department statement.
Police did not name Manis in a news release but said one of the suspects took the woman’s cellphone during the altercation before both of them exited the train and left the subway station.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York who introduced the now-Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act law, said Manis was an “unsung frontline worker” and the attack was”abhorrent.”
Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, told CNN there’s a lot of fear in the Asian American community that has not gone away. Elder people are terrified to leave their homes, parents are worried for their children going to in-person classes and workers are vigilant during their commutes, she said.
On Thursday, Yoo and several public officials in New York held a news conference calling for immediate funding and increase resources to keep residents of Asian descent safe.
“We need to be able to do safety ambassador programs and victims need mental health support,” Yoo said.
Anti-Asian attacks ‘are not going away’
Stop AAPI Hate began tracking violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on March 19 last year as more Asian Americans were verbally and physically assaulted while erroneously being blamed for the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than a year later, anti-Asian violence continues nationally with horrifying assaults reported in cities like San Francisco and New York City.
Last week, Stop AAPI Hate released its latest report showing it has received 9,081 firsthand complaints between March 19 of last year and June 30. The organization has previously said it doesn’t independently verify any of the reports it receives, but that its total number of incidents only includes those reports that came with a description.
The majority of the incidents – about 63.7% – were cases of verbal harassment, while shunning or avoidance made up about 16.5%. About 13.7% of the incidents involved physical assaults, according to Stop AAPI Hate.
Among those saying they’ve experience bias, women accounted for 63.3% of all reports and 48.1% said the incidents involved “at least one hateful statement regarding anti-China and/or anti-immigrant rhetoric,” the coalition said.
“Our data clearly shows that Asian Americans across the country continue to be attacked, and that the hate incidents that we have been tracking since March 2020 are not going away,” Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, said in a statement.
CNN’s Laura Studley contributed to this report.