A Florida woman accused of making anti-Asian remarks and pepper-spraying four people in New York City earlier this month has been charged with hate crimes.
Madeline Barker, 47, of Central Florida, was arraigned in court Saturday, where she was formally charged with attempted assault as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime, and harassment as a hate crime, according to court records.
'Go Back to Where You Came From'
Police were looking for Barker after she was filmed pepper spraying four women following a verbal altercation on June 11 and made anti-Asian remarks at the intersection of 14th Street and Ninth Avenue in Chelsea.
The four women who were pepper-sprayed, who all identify as Asian, said they had just left the L.E.A.F flower show in Manhattan's Meatpacking District on June 11 when they realized around 6 p.m. that one of them had misplaced a bag in the area.
They were trying to look for the misplaced bag when they said Barker picked up an argument with them and accused them of harassing her. The victims told authorities that Barker told them, "Why don't you go back to your country," according to the complaint. Barker then pepper-sprayed them in video footage obtained by the New York Post.
At some point during the altercation, not captured in the video that the NYPD released, an unidentified Asian man passed the group on the sidewalk, NYPD Sergeant Anwar Ishmael told CNN. The woman allegedly turned to him and said, "You take all your b***hes back to where you came from," Ishmael said.
Barker Arrested After Eyewitness Recognized Her
She was arrested after an eyewitness recognized her on the street and called the cops, an assistant district said in Manhattan Criminal Court. Barker made her first court appearance on Saturday and was ordered held on $20,000 bail.
Hate crimes, including those against Asians in the US, have seen a sharp increase in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic sparked attacks against Asians amid online and political rhetoric stigmatizing them, but this category of hate crime is often underreported.