May 25, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang joined Queens lawmakers and Council candidates in Long Island City Tuesday to condemn a recent attack against an Asian American man in the neighborhood.
The officials and candidates convened outside the 21st Street-Queensbridge F subway station the day after a 35-year-old Asian man was shoved onto the subway tracks at the same station in a random attack that the NYPD is investigating as a possible hate crime.
The victim survived the attack and was helped off the tracks by bystanders, but Yang said the assault is the most recent reminder of the uptick in hate crimes against Asians in New York City this year.
“Today it’s an Asian man getting shoved onto the subway tracks, tomorrow it’s going to be someone else victimized on the basis on their race,” Yang said, also noting a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in recent days. “It has to stop, it has to end.”
He added that he himself has faced prejudice in his mayoral campaign as an Asian American man from other campaigns and the media.
He said some have characterized him as being “less New York” than others. He believes that he has faced such criticism because of his ethnicity.
“Characterizing anyone as being less New York than someone else on the basis of their race or religion or any other background is wrong,” Yang said. “I will stand against that and make it so there is no place for hate on any basis here in New York City.”
His wife Evelyn Yang, who was born and raised in Queens, also spoke at the press conference and denounced a recent political cartoon of her husband published by the New York Daily News depicting him as a tourist coming out of the Times Square subway station.
The cartoon was drawn in reference to Yang stating that his favorite subway station is Times Square — a comment that raised the eyebrows of many New Yorkers who view the area as largely for tourists. The candidate said it was his favorite because it was the station closest to his home.
However, Evelyn Yang said that it was racist for its depiction of Andrew Yang’s “overtly beady slanted” eyes compared to the two other characters’ eyes in the cartoon.
She said it bolsters “the trope of the perpetual Asian foreigner.”
“Not only does this dehumanize Asians, it promotes racism against Asians,” she said.
Assembly Member Ron Kim — who attended the press conference as well — demanded that the Daily News apologize and take down the cartoon.
“We demand a public apology as soon as possible and it to be taken down,” he said. “It’s not acceptable to continue to portray Asians as if we are perpetual foreigners who do not belong in this country.”
Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal and Council candidates Sandra Ung, Julie Won and Badrun Khan also spoke at the press conference and condemned hate and racism in all forms.
Yang, who is a frontrunner in the mayoral race, said he has faced continued criticism that he is not “a real New Yorker” despite the fact that he has lived in the city for more than two decades and is raising his family in Manhattan.
He said that the comment has racist undertones.
Some of the criticism, however, stems from the fact that Yang left the city to go to New Paltz during the height of the pandemic and that he has never voted for mayor — a position he’s now running for — in all the years he’s lived in the city.