Dozens of people on Sunday marched through the streets of Manhattan to the site where an Asian man was brutally attacked on Friday night. Yao Pan Ma was hospitalized and remains in a coma, his family told CBS New York.
The 61-year-old was collecting cans when someone shoved him from behind and began stomping on his head. The attack, which took place in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City, was caught on surveillance video.
“I’m very scared right now. I’m so worried that my husband might never come back,” Baozhen Chen, Ma’s wife, told CBS New York.
Chen said the couple moved from China to New York in 2018. She said Ma had been working as a dishwasher at a restaurant, but lost his job because of the coronavirus pandemic. She said he resorted to collecting empty cans and bottles for money because he was ineligible for unemployment.
“I am very panicked and sad,” Chen told CBS New York. “My husband is very hardworking and nice person.”
One of the people who marched in support of Ma, Jason Wu, told CBS New York: “I’m family with the Chinese Asian community and I want us to stand in solidarity and protect each other.”
Ma remains in critical, but stable condition, CBS New York reports.
The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the attack to see if Ma was targeted over his race. The attack comes amid a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. Onefound that reports of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 2020, even as hate crimes fell overall by 7%. New York saw the highest jump in reports. As of last week, anti-Asian attacks in the city have increased 450% compared to the same period last year, per CBS New York.
“You know, as a New Yorker, it’s really hard to watch and to see New Yorkers turning on each other like that,” Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, told CBS New York.