Asian Americans express concerns over safety as Asian woman is shoved to death at New York subway station
Published: Jan 17, 2022 12:55 AM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Some Asian residents in the US contacted by the Global Times expressed concerns over their safety after an Asian woman was killed by a homeless man after he pushed her in front of an oncoming subway train on Saturday morning at Times Square station in New York.

However, amid growing calls in the US to combat the problem given the raise in crimes against Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts expressed concerns that it will be very difficult for the US to eradicate the problem of racial discrimination, especially against Asian Americans, as the US has double standards on it.

The tragedy happened at about around 9:30 am. The suspect, a 61-year-old man named Simon Martial, who has been charged with murder, later turned himself to transit police, New York police officers told media.

The police said that the incident was unprovoked and the victim does not appear to have had any interaction with the subject. They said the suspect initially targeted another woman on the platform before he became physically violent with the victim, Michelle Alyssa Go, 40 years old.

Martial has a criminal record with at least three arrests going back to 1998. He also had three runs in with police as an emotionally disturbed person, US media reported.

The number of anti-Asian incidents reported in the subway increased in 2021, media reported citing NYPD data. The growth of anti-Asian hate crimes also worry Asian Americans and Chinese people living in New York. 
The New York Post reported on Sunday that the victim was Michelle Go, a senior manager at one of the major consulting firms in the city. 

A Chinese resident of New York who also works for a consulting firm told the Global Times on Monday that what happened to Go was really terrifying. "There were cases targeting the Asian American community characterized as 'hate crimes' but when the police handled the cases, they took them as common cases," she said. 

Additionally, some of the offenders involved in hate crimes have psychological issues, so it is hard to see a fair sentence, she noted. "What I can do is to figure how to protect myself more and maybe I will consider moving out of the city," she said. 

Tina, another Chinese woman who works in New York, said there are no protection measures at the subway and it is a regret that such talented person was killed in such accident. 

The issue shocked netizens from both the US and China, leading to discussions on several topics like security at the subway station, the management of homeless people and, especially, the long-standing problem of anti-Asian hate in the US. 

"To be Jewish in America. To be Muslim in America. To be a person of color in America. To be a woman in America. To be Native American in America. To be Asian American in America. Is to live wondering if you are next," a netizen commented on the issue in Twitter.

The hashtag of the tragedy has attracted nearly 4 million views as of Sunday night. Some Chinese netizens suggested it is necessary to build security door at subway stations. Others expressed pity that the latest tragedy indicates no improvement has been made in the US on discrimination against Asians regardless of the numerous reports of Asians being attacked or killed during the pandemic.    

Discrimination against Asians did not appear only after the Biden administration came to power. It is a historical problem in the US that worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic with former US President Donald Trump's discrimination against Chinese and Asians which exacerbated the situation. Biden's words and policies can show his attitude and this may slightly ease the situation and arouse people's attention to the problem. But it is impossible to eradicate discrimination against Asian Americans, said experts.

A study based on statistics from police departments in major US cities released in March, 2021, found a nearly 150 percent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 while the number of overall hate crimes fell by seven percent. 

"Stop Asian Hate" demonstrations swept across the US last year following the death of six Asian women in the Atlanta shootings on March 16, 2021 and a series of malevolent anti-Asian crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, many local Chinese Americans calling on more of their fellow citizens to "stand up." 

Biden also condemned the violence against Asian Americans and signed a memorandum condemning and combating racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US.

However, experts noted that these measures cannot fundamentally change the situation of Asian Americans in the US and it is difficult to eradicate discrimination against them.

Fighting against racial discrimination is a politically correct topic in the US. Moreover, racial violence is not only a problem between the white population and African Americans. Asian Americans have also suffered from severe discrimination. But the US will not take the problem as urgent and serious, like the way they treat anti-African American racial violence, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University.

"This is because when encountering discrimination, African Americans tend to cling together and resist toughly. But Asian Americans do not. Their methods of resistance are too mild," said Li. "Therefore, when Asian Americans face discrimination in the US, the reaction are not as strong as when African Americans demonstrate. This also can partially explain why the status of African Americans has improved rapidly while it has not for other minorities."

The US has long claimed to oppose radical discrimination but the specific degree of anti-discrimination varies among ethnic minorities. It is hypocritical that the US has double standards to deal with racial discrimination. And it is ironic that the US, which proclaims to be a "melting pot," is erupting into deep racial hate. The objective reality is that the more intense the opposition to racial discrimination in the US is, the more racism there tends to be, Li noted.