Two days after hundreds came together to honor Michelle Go’s memory in Times Square, protesters took to Chinatown to call for help combatting the surge in anti-Asian attacks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Go, 40, was shoved to her death in front of an oncoming train at the Times Square-42nd Street subway station on Jan. 15. The homeless advocate of over 10 years was allegedly killed by 61-year-old Simon Martial, a mentally ill, homeless man with a decades-long rap sheet.
Family, friends, public officials, community leaders and supporters showed up to Go’s candlelight vigil on Tuesday. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who was present, expressed condolences to Go’s loved ones.
Martial, who was reported to have mental health issues, has been charged with second-degree murder. He was ordered to be held without bail on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
While the case is not being investigated as a hate crime, it has escalated fears throughout the Asian American communities, which have seen spikes in violence since the onset of COVID-19. Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, said it is impossible to separate Go’s death from what Asian Americans are experiencing.
“You can tell me all you want, [that] this is not related to me being Asian, but when I look at pictures of Michelle Go and read the story I see myself in it,” Choimorrow told CNN.
By Thursday, more than 100 protesters gathered in front of a hotel in Chinatown, according to the New York Post, to condemn the attacks and call for help. Attendees carried signs that said “Asian Lives Matter” and “Mayor Adams, Please Save Chinatown.”
They also called attention to Yao Pan Ma, the 61-year-old Chinese immigrant who died months after falling victim to a separate targeted attack.
“We need Eric Adams. We need our mayor to do something, to fight the crime and protect us,” said Samantha Chan, a member of Concerned Citizens of East Broadway, according to the Post.
Adams told reporters on Sunday that subways are safe and that what needs to be done is “remove the perception of fear,” he said, according to Fox News.
The mayor claimed that Go’s death “aggravates the perception of fear.”
“When you see homeless individuals with mental health issues not being attended to and given the proper services, that adds to the perception of fear,” the Post quotes him as further explaining.
But on Tuesday, on the day of Go’s vigil, Adams admitted that he actually felt unsafe in the subway. He recalled an incident on Jan. 1 — just shortly after he assumed office — involving passengers yelling at each other.
“On day one, I took the subway system, I felt unsafe. I saw homeless everywhere. People were yelling on the trains. There was a feeling of disorder. So as we deal with the crime problem, we also have to deal with the fact people feel unsafe,” Adams told reporters, according to NBC New York.
Republican radio host Curtis Sliwa, who lost to Adams in the 2021 mayoral election — but won big among Asian American voters — also attended the protest on Thursday. Sliwa has taken to Twitter to criticize Adams’ remarks, accusing the mayor of covering up subway crimes and not confronting District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is also drawing flak for having lenient sentencing policies.
“Adams is saying what de Blasio said for eight years — MTA crime is a perception and not real,” Sliwa wrote. “What happened to the law and order candidate?”
Featured Image via New York Post
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