A New York City man was arrested and charged on Tuesday (Apr 27) with attempted murder in what police have classified as a hate crime against a Chinese immigrant, authorities said.
The victim, identified by police as 61-year-old Yao Pan Ma, was attacked in the East Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan on Apr 23. The assault is the latest in a spate of attacks targeting Asian Americans in US.
Ma was collecting cans when he was attacked from behind, knocked to the ground and kicked in the head multiple times. He was taken to Harlem Hospital, where he remained in a coma on Tuesday, officials said.
It was unclear on Tuesday if Powell had an attorney. No information on bond was available, but police said he remained in custody on Tuesday evening.
Media outlets, including the Washington Post and People magazine reported that Ma was in critical condition in a medically induced coma. A representative for Harlem Hospital told Reuters that he could not release information on the patient.
People magazine reported that Ma was a pastry chef who came to America about two years ago with his wife.
A recent report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino showed that crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) jumped by 145 per cent in 2020, even as hate crimes overall in the United States fell slightly.
In March, a shooting spree at three spas in and around Atlanta left eight people dead, including six Asian women. Police said that they have not ruled out charging the suspect with a hate crime.
Many Americans blame Asians for the coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Former US President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus" and "kung flu", rhetoric seen by some as inflaming anti-Asian sentiment.