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Woman accused of hate crimes after allegedly attacking 4 people with pepper-spray and making anti-Asian remarks in NYC

<i>NYPD Hate Crimes</i><br/>The NYPD earlier this week released this photo of a suspect in the attack that took place June 11 in Manhattan.
NYPD Hate Crimes
NYPD Hate Crimes
The NYPD earlier this week released this photo of a suspect in the attack that took place June 11 in Manhattan.

By Rob Frehse and Aya Elamroussi, CNN

A woman who allegedly made anti-Asian remarks and pepper-sprayed four people in New York City last weekend was arrested, police said Friday.

Madeline Barker, 47, faces two counts of assault as a hate crime, two counts of attempted assault as a hate crime and four counts of harassment as a hate crime, the New York Police Department said. She was awaiting arraignment.

CNN was not immediately able to identify an attorney for Barker, who is from Merritt Island, Florida, according to the NYPD. CNN reached out to the Legal Aid Society to determine whether it’s representing her.

The attack, which was investigated by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force, happened June 11 in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and was partially caught on video.

The video released by police showed a woman brandishing what appeared to be pepper-spray. The woman then proceeded to pepper-spray four women during the altercation, the NYPD said. The women refused medical attention, according to an earlier news release from police.

At some point during the altercation, not captured in the video that the NYPD released, an unidentified Asian man passed the group on the sidewalk, NYPD Sergeant Anwar Ishmael told CNN. The woman allegedly turned to him and said, “You take all your b***hes back to where you came from,” Ishmael said.

Ultimately, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will determine what charges Barker will face when she is arraigned.

Hate crimes, including those against Asians in the US, have seen a sharp increase in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic sparked attacks against Asians amid online and political rhetoric stigmatizing them, but this category of hate crime is often underreported.

Between March 31, 2021, and March 31, 2022, 110 of 577 hate crime incidents targeted Asians, according to the NYPD Hate Crimes Dashboard. In March 2022 alone, there were nine incidents treated as hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, with five arrests.

In 2020, attacks targeting Asians nationally spiked to 279 from 161 in 2019, according to the FBI hate crime report.

And despite the concerning increase in such crimes, a small percentage of reported attacks against Asians end up in convictions.

A report from the Asian American Bar Association of New York found that of the 233 reported attacks against Asian Americans in New York City in the first three quarters of 2021, seven led to hate crime convictions as of late May.

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CNN’s Liam Reilly and Emily Chang contributed to this report.

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