City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito at a news conference in Harlem.

On January 26, AAFE accompanied City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito at a press conference in El Barrio/East Harlem to denounce a series of vicious muggings against Asian American residents and to urge members of the community help find the suspect behind these attacks. In the past week, the attacker has brutally beaten and robbed at least seven Asian American residents in elevators.

In addition to AAFE, representatives from OCA New York and Japanese Americans Citizens Leauge NY joined Mark-Viverito.  The media event was held at the corner of East 106th Street and 3rd Avenue, outside of the Franklin Plaza housing development, where several of the attacks have occurred. Residents of Franklin Plaza and the surrounding East Harlem community were also in attendance, holding signs reading “Stop the Violence” and “Our Community Stands Together.”

“Today we are gathered to say that this kind of violence against our Asian American neighbors, and against any members of our community, will not be tolerated,” said Mark-Viverito. “This attacker must be stopped, and we need the entire community to remain vigilant until he is apprehended.”

“AAFE is sad to learn about these crimes against members of the East Harlem community,” said Christopher Kui, executive director of AAFE. “We are committed to working with local stakeholders like Councilmember Viverito and the NYPD to address this moving forward.  Everyone regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, income, and ability deserves to live safely.  We applaud NYPD for staffing more bilingual officers in the neighborhood and believe we need to continue to ensure that outreach and services are accessible to non-English speakers.  Lastly, we need community members to come forward and let the authorities know if they have any information that will help catch this individual.”

Crime Stoppers is currently offering up to $2,000 in cash for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person responsible for these crimes. According to literature distributed by police, “The perpetrator attacks victims of Asian descent by following them into elevators, assaulting them repeatedly by punching them in the face and head and forcefully removing their property. The perpetrator is described as a light skinned male black or male Hispanic, 6’0”- 6’2”, 200 – 230 lbs and wears a black jacket and a black doo-rag or skull cap.”

If you have information about these crimes, please call Crimestoppers at1-800-577-TIPS.

UPDATE: The suspect has been captured.  See coverage from the Daily News here.