Suspected of having violently hit a sexagenarian of Asian origin, a homeless man was arrested and charged on Wednesday by the New York police. This attack, which was filmed and relayed on social networks, was deeply shocking, against the backdrop of soaring attacks against the Asian minority in the United States.
Police arrested Brandon Elliot, 38, overnight Tuesday through Wednesday and charged him with “hate motivated” assault. According to a New York police spokesperson, he was staying in a hotel near Times Square, near the scene of the crime, which now accommodates homeless people.
A heavy criminal past
Several hotels in this district, emptied of its crowds of tourists since the start of the pandemic, have been transformed into accommodation centers in order to be able to respect the rules of distancing. The suspect has a heavy criminal past: he was imprisoned from 2002 to 2019 for stabbing his mother to death, in front of his five-year-old sister, said the police spokesperson. The assault on the 65-year-old Asian woman, who was attending church, took place shortly before noon on Monday.
In the images, taken by surveillance cameras from inside a building, we see her walking when, suddenly, the man approaches her, knocks her to the ground of a first kick, then hits him several more times in the head before walking away. Police said on Tuesday that the assailant had uttered anti-Asian insults at him. Police posted video and photos of the assailant on Twitter, and called on people to help identify him. Residents recognized a local homeless person and led the police to the hotel. The victim, whose identity has not been released, was hospitalized with a broken pelvis and multiple injuries, police said. She has since left the hospital, according to several media.
The violence of the assault, added to the passivity of two men watching the scene from inside a building – one of them even closing the building door rather than going to help the woman left behind. on the ground – had aroused many scandalized reactions, among many local elected officials up to Joe Biden. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack “horrible” and “disgusting”. State Governor Andrew Cuomo lamented that violence against the Asian community is becoming “an epidemic in our state and our country.” President Biden announced in a tweet on Tuesday “additional measures” to respond to anti-Asian violence, including a “Justice Department initiative”.
New York, like other American metropolises, has seen an upsurge in crime targeting people of Asian descent in recent months. Many are to blame ex-President Donald Trump, who frequently called Covid-19 a “Chinese virus” or “Chinese plague”. On March 15, a man shot dead eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in the Atlanta area. New York police have since stepped up their presence in neighborhoods with high Asian populations. Volunteer patrols have also been formed in certain neighborhoods to reassure the population. The first American metropolis has more than a million inhabitants with Asian origins. For the week of March 15 to 21 alone, New York City police recorded nine “hate motivated” crimes, up from three over the same period of 2020, according to official statistics.