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Korean-American Artist Attacked in Manhattan

“People yell at me ‘go back to China’ or ‘hey, coronavirus.’ I face these attacks at least twice a week on my way to work,” says Korean-American artist Kate Bae, who was physically assaulted near Bryant Park.

Artist Kate Bae after she was attacked near Bryant Park in Manhattan. “I was stunned that this happened,” Bae said. “It took me some time to realize that I was covered with gravel and dirt.” (All images courtesy Kate Bae)

On the morning of Tuesday, July 7, an unknown man attacked New York-based artist and independent curator Kate Bae near Manhattan’s Bryant Park. The man struck Bae in her face and escaped from the site. No suspects have been arrested.

Bae, who is temporarily working for the US Census Bureau, was on her way to the office when she saw a man walking towards her on the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue.

“He suddenly came close to me and just punched me,” Bae told Hyperallergic in a phone conversation. “I fell backward on the ground but I got up immediately to identify him, although my head was hurting. When I screamed ‘stop right there,’ he started running away.”

Two NYPD officers who arrived at the scene took a complaint from Bae but were not able to locate the attacker, who had fled the scene. (The NYPD has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.)

Bryant Park on the morning of the attack 

Bae continued walking to work as usual but when she arrived at the office, her managers urged her to visit an emergency room. She is suffering from mild injuries in her face, neck, and legs.

“I was stunned that this happened,” Bae said. “It took me some time to realize that I was covered with gravel and dirt.”

A few hours later, Bae shared her experience on social media, posting a picture of herself bruised at the site of the attack.

Kate Bae in Bryant Park, prior to the July 7 attack

Xenophobic attacks against Asians and Asian Americans, partly encouraged by President Donald Trump’s inciting rhetoric about China and the coronavirus, have been prevalent throughout the United States since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Bae, a Korean-American, says that she has been routinely harassed in the streets of New York in the past few months.

“People yell at me ‘go back to China’ or ‘hey, coronavirus.’ I face these attacks at least twice a week on my way to work,” she said.

Bae said that in a recent incident, a man tried to pull down her face mask and spit at her face.

“I’m normally very good at handling these situations,” she said. “I usually answer these comments with ‘I love you, too’ and walk away, but this one was unexpected.”

Bae said that she is frustrated and scared, but not angry. After experiencing the constant barrage of xenophobia and racist abuse, her voice broke when she retorted: “I just don’t understand why.”

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