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New York DA prosecutes highest number of anti-Asian hate crimes

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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, pictured November 2021, said his office is prosecuting 33 anti-Asian hate crimes -- its highest number ever./AFP
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Feb 11, 2022 - 03:08 AM

NEW YORK — A New York prosecutor said Thursday that his team was prosecuting its highest number of anti-Asian hate crimes since a unit was established more than a decade ago.

Anti-Asian violence surged in the United States 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.

New York officials have also cited a history of mental illness, exacerbated by a disruption to social services during the pandemic, among many of the perpetrators.

“Tragically, our office is currently prosecuting 33 hate crime cases driven by anti-Asian bias — unfortunately, the most we have had since our hate crimes unit was established in 2010,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The Manhattan DA’s office said in a statement that it “prosecuted nearly four times more anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 than in the previous year.”

Bragg’s comments came as he announced that a 50-year-old man had been charged with committing second-degree murder as a hate crime.

Jarrod Powell is accused of brutally assaulting Yao Pan Ma, a 61-year-old Chinese immigrant, in East Harlem, Manhattan in April last year.

Powell was initially charged with attempted murder and hate crimes, but the charges have been upgraded after Ma died from his injuries in December.

“As alleged, Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr Ma for no other reason than his race,” said Bragg.

The announcement of the indictment came as Seoul’s foreign ministry said a South Korean diplomat was injured after being attacked by an “unidentified man” in Manhattan.

The New York Post reported that the diplomat was hospitalized with a broken nose.

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