A woman dressed in pink pepper-sprayed four Asian women during an argument in New York City in the latest instance of hate crime toward Asians in the United States. A shocking video of the incident, recorded by the victims, shows the hate-spewing woman threatening the four women, all in their 20s, before pepper-spraying them.
Police said they are looking into the incident and are currently treating it as a hate crime incident. No arrests have been made yet. According to the victims, the unidentified Karen allegedly launched into a racial diatribe as she sprayed the Asian women with pepper spray.
Hatred Toward Asians
The incident happened near 14th Street and Ninth Avenue in Chelsea around 6 pm on Saturday when the unidentified white woman started an argument with the four Asian women. According to the authorities, the video shot by a bystander shows the woman dressed in loud fuchsia brandishing pepper spray and demanding the women at the other end of a folding table to "move."
The woman also told the Asian women to "go back to where you came from, go back to your country," a police spokesperson told Patch.
"I thought I would be safe in the middle of Chelsea, in the middle of the day, with so many people around," Nicole Chung, 24, one of the four victims of the pepper spray attack told The New York Post. "But it is not safe going out in the city as an Asian person. ... It's scary in New York," she added.
Chung, who is a graphic designer, said she along with three female friends – another 24-year-old and two 25-year-olds – had left the L.E.A.F flower show in Manhattan's Meatpacking District on Saturday when they realized one of them had misplaced a bag in the area.
They stopped for around 30 seconds and started looking for the misplaced bag and which route to walk when the woman appeared from nowhere and started screaming at them. She said, "You are harassing me," Chung recounted.
"And we were like, 'We're not harassing you, we're trying to work out which direction to walk.'
"She said 'I know what you're trying to do, you're trying to harass me,'" Chung recalled. "I responded, 'We're not trying to bother you, but if you want us to move, you can ask nicely.'"
Chung told the NY Post that one of her friends even apologized to her but she was in no mood to listen. Instead, she started spewing racial slurs. "You're harassing me! Go back where you came from! Go back to your country!" screamed the woman dubbed Karen by the local media.
Chung stated that she was born in the United States and raised in the city. Chung's friend meanwhile was recording the entire incident. The woman then pepper-sprayed the four women and fled north on Ninth Avenue, cops said.
"When she sprayed, we were in a state of shock, like, 'What the hell just happened?'" Chung recalled. "She hit me in the eyes with the pepper spray, which started burning immediately. It felt like someone was pouring bleach in my eyes."
Passers-by jumped in to assist her, splashing water in her eyes, but the pain only worsened. For 30 minutes, she couldn't see.
After the incident, one of the victims claimed she received a message from someone else who had supposedly run into the same woman earlier in the day, claiming Karen had pepper-sprayed three others, including a 13-year-old child.
Police is treating the incident as hate crime and are looking for the unidentified Karen. According to authorities, the suspect is in her 50s, stands 5 feet 3 inches tall, and weighs 120 pounds.
Hate crimes have been on the rise in New York City and across the country, with the NYPD claiming a 96 percent increase in hate crimes in 2021, with 133 Asian Americans facing horrific and hazardous discrimination in the city. According to data, there were 30 reported instances in 2020, compared to 133 the previous year, a 343 percent increase.