How Andrew Yang, Ted Lieu, Others Have Responded to Attacks Against Asian Americans

Local leaders and federal lawmakers spoke out against the continued spike in racist violence targeting Asian American people across the U.S. this week, as two videos emerged showing attacks that recently took place in New York City.

"Like so many other people, I woke up to a horrifying video of an Asian woman being brutally beaten for no reason other than her race," said New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, a Democrat and the only primary contender who is Asian American, during remarks at a pop-up food pantry in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Yang referenced a video, captured in security camera footage, that showed a man physically attacking a 65-year-old woman of Asian descent near the entrance of a building in New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. Security guards inside the building did not intervene, instead closing entrance doors while the woman lay on the ground outside.

"An elderly Asian woman walking the streets of Hell's Kitchen could easily have been my mother, because that's where we lived," the candidate continued. "So, seeing this happen in my neighborhood hit very close to home. It also was incredibly disheartening how bystanders, in this case, personnel at the building, did nothing, and apparently didn't even go to the woman's aid after it was clear that she was in distress. And this is exactly the opposite of what we need here in New York City."

Newsweek reached out to Yang's campaign for further comment but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

Andrew Yang, New York City
New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang responded to two videos of anti-Asian attacks that surfaced this week in remarks delivered Tuesday. Above, Yang leaves the NYC Board of Elections office on March 23, in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York State Senator John Liu reacted to the video late Monday, in a tweet that additionally highlighted the ongoing pattern of violence targeting Asian Americans. Liu acknowledged a vigil held earlier to support New York's Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, led by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and juxtaposed the gesture with news of the Hell's Kitchen attack.

"Just after soothing vigil by ⁦@QnsBPRichards in support of Asian American community, this lands in inbox," Liu wrote. "What's worse? The attacker who stands by nonchalantly after brutalizing Asian woman, or the men inside who shut the door on her? For f*** sake, we are human beings!"

Hate crimes against AAPI people increased during 2020, a grave trend that many have attributed at least in part to former president Donald Trump's anti-Asian and generally xenophobic rhetoric as it related to the COVID-19 pandemic's origins. On March 16, six women of Asian descent were killed, as were two others, during a mass shooting in Atlanta.

California Rep. Ted Lieu commented on President Joe Biden's push to address the rise in anti-Asian violence nationwide Monday afternoon.

"Thank you to @POTUS for doing everything he can to unite our country," the congressman tweeted. "This is in stark contrast to the former President, who sought to divide us by using racist phrases like 'Kung Flu.' At the end of the day, we are all Americans."

Lieu's message followed a White House announcement, unveiling several initiatives designed to combat anti-Asian violence and hate, as well as offer equitable access to public health resources during the pandemic and bolster community programs for survivors of domestic violence and assault who are AAPI.

"We can't be silent in the face of rising violence against Asian Americans. That's why today I'm taking additional steps to respond—including establishing an initiative at the Department of Justice to address anti-Asian crimes," Biden said in a statement, regarding the new initiatives. "These attacks are wrong, un-American, and must stop."