A woman will face hate-crime charges for allegedly pepper-spraying four women during an anti-Asian tirade in Manhattan, according to reports.
Madeline Barker, 47, is being held at Rikers Island on $20,000 bail after being arraigned on assault and hate-crime charges last week, media reports said.
The NYPD earlier released the photo of a suspect in the attack that took place on June 11 in Manhattan.
Barker, of Merritt Island, Florida, also faces four counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and one count of third-degree attempted assault as a hate crime.
The four Asian victims told detectives the woman used pepper spray, hitting three of them but missing the fourth, and stated something to the effect of, “Why don’t you go back to your country?”
The attack, which was investigated by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force, was partially caught on video. The footage, released by police, showed a woman brandishing what appeared to be pepper spray.
The woman proceeded to pepper-spray four women during the altercation, the Police said.
She also told an unidentified Asian man passed the group on the sidewalk to take ‘all your b***hes back to where you came from’.
Hate crimes, including those against Asians in the US, have seen a sharp increase in recent years.
Anti-Asian violence surged in the US following the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Activists believe the hate crimes were fueled by talk of the “Chinese virus” by former president Donald Trump and others during the early days of the pandemic.
Between March 31, 2021, and March 31, 2022, 110 of 577 hate crime incidents targeted Asians, according to the NYPD Hate Crimes Dashboard. In March 2022 alone, there were nine incidents treated as hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, with five arrests.
In 2020, attacks targeting Asians nationally spiked to 279 from 161 in 2019, according to the FBI hate crime report.
A report from the Asian American Bar Association of New York found of the 233 reported attacks against Asian Americans in New York City in the first three quarters of 2021, seven led to hate crime convictions as of late May.