NYC mayoral hopefuls speak out against anti-Asian attacks

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Big Apple mayoral candidates banded together Wednesday to denounce the recent rash of anti-Asian attacks in the city — with Andrew Yang calling Monday’s sucker-punch assault in Chinatown “completely foreseeable.”

“Alexander Wright should not have been on our streets,” Yang, one of the leading mayoral candidates, railed at a rally Wednesday. “Some crimes are unforeseeable. This was completely foreseeable.”

Wright, 48, has been arrested 17 times before — 40 times altogether, including his sealed cases — and was charged Tuesday with the broad-daylight slugging of a 55-year-old victim on Bayard Street.

“You have to ask yourself, how is it that this man was arrested 17 times … is on our streets to brutally attack a woman?” Yang continued in Chinatown. “It’s unacceptable. We need change.”

NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang addresses the media and the public about anti-asian hate crimes at Confucious Plaza in Chinatown, NY on June 2, 2021.
NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang addresses the media and the public about anti-Asian hate crimes at Confucius Plaza in Chinatown on June 2, 2021.
James Messerschmidt

Yang and a handful of other Democratic hopefuls held separate rallies in support of Asian American communities amid the surge of attacks — with some pinning the blame on the city’s mental health crisis.

“We have been here far too many times,” said former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “This needs to be the last press conference we are holding because we have had to watch video of someone’s mother, someone’s grandmother, be hurt, be assaulted randomly in the street.

“We need to have a police presence here to protect people, but we have to go deeper,” she said. “We need to make sure we are dealing with the mental health crisis we are seeing on the streets.”

NYC mayoral candidates Aaron Foldenauer (red tie), Scott Stringer, Sean Donovan and Kathryn Garcia, address the media about Asian hate crimes in Chinatown, NY on June 2, 2021.
NYC mayoral candidates Sean Donovan and Kathryn Garcia talking during the anti-Asian hate event on June 2, 2021.
James Messerschmidt

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said the disturbing crime trend requires officials to come up with “a community plan.”

“We have to understand that it’s going to be up to all the stakeholders to identify resources and the enforcement we need to keep people safe,” Stringer said.

“I did not understand that video the first two times I watched it,” he said, referring to Monday’s attack. “I thought it was something out of a different world.”

“We will get through this. We will build back.”

Former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said he was “outraged and saddened.”

“It is outrageous in our city that a mother has to wonder whether she can walk to the store, a child has to worry that even going outside is a threat to their life,” he said.

Donovan added, “We need a mayor and a city that welcomes everyone to New York. This is a solvable problem if we invest in supportive housing [where] we can house those with mental health challenges, not just put a shelter over their heads.”

Attorney Aaron Foldenauer said the mental health issue plaguing the Big Apple needs to be “a nationwide story.”

NYC mayoral candidates speaking at the anti-Asian hate event on June 2, 2021.
NYC mayoral candidates Aaron Foldenauer (red tie), Scott Stringer, Sean Donovan and Kathryn Garcia, address the media about anti-Asian hate crimes in Chinatown on June 2, 2021.
James Messerschmidt

“I am going to close the homeless hotels,” he said. “When I become mayor, I am going to work with leaders in Albany to revisit jail reform.”

Speaking at his morning briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio also addressed the most recent anti-Asian attack.

“It says we have more work to do,” de Blasio said. “The most central problem has been not having our court system operating because when the court system is operating, we see constant movement.”

This man was arrested after screaming at Andrew Yang during the rally.
This man was arrested after screaming at Andrew Yang during the rally.
James Messerschmidt

“We see decisions being made, we see consequences,” he said. “It has an impact.”

Meanwhile, at Yang’s event Wednesday, an emotionally disturbed man became unruly and had to be hauled away in handcuffs in an ambulance.

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