Three Minnesota teens arrested for kicking Asian woman after viral video identifies suspects

Three Minnesota teens arrested for kicking Asian woman after viral video identifies suspects
Kristoffer Trolle Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Crimes against Asian Americans continue to rise in the U.S. amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many Asian Americans fear not only contracting COVID-19 but being subject to hate crimes when leaving their homes for necessary items, CNN reported. Within four weeks of the website’s launch in March, an online anti-Asian bias tracker received almost 1,500 reported cases of violence as a result of COVID-19 towards Asian Americans. Incidents are being shared on social media nationwide in which Asian Americans are facing both verbal and physical violence in public spaces.

video clip posted on Instagram this week enabled law enforcement to arrest three teenagers Wednesday for allegedly harassing and kicking an Asian American woman in Minnesota. Using the video from social media, in addition to security footage, officials were able to identify the three suspects, two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old, Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla confirmed to NBC News. Within 36 hours, the teens were in custody. As BuzzFeed News notes, the relationship between the teenage boys is unknown. The video depicted one teen taunting the woman before another kicked her in the face, all three fled the scene laughing after the attack. "The million dollar question is why someone would do something like this," Padilla told BuzzFeed News. "I am not sure we will ever comprehend it."

The incident took place around midnight on May 4, at the Dale Street Green Line station in Saunt Paul Minnesota, officials said. Metro Transit began investigating the incident immediately after viewers reported the video on social media Tuesday. According to BuzzFeed News, investigators were able to identify the location of the incident using details like the wall background. Trains were not operating at the time of the incident, “the Metro Transit Police Department has not yet confirmed why the individuals were at the station” NBC News reported.

TRIGGER WARNING: The video below includes graphic violence

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Three teens are arrested for allegedly kicking an older Asian-American woman in the head at the Dale Street Green Line station around midnight Monday. Metro Transit began the investigation when people who viewed video of the assault on social media reported it. Using the social media video, investigators identified the location as the Dale Street station. They then scoured nighttime security footage to find the assault. The arrests came a little more than 24 hours after police became aware of the video with help from St. Paul Police. Padilla said it’s too early in the investigation to know if it was racially-motivated. Minnesota launched a discrimination hotline to report increased harassment and attacks on Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Until we can talk to all of the parties involved -- including the suspects, including the victim, who we’re still trying to talk to -- until we have the complete story, we’re not going to be able to make that determination,” Padilla said. “We know on social media people are starting to make those determinations on their own.” Padilla said they will turn over the investigation to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office to determine if there was evidence of bias. Police have not yet identified the victim. No other information is available about the suspects due to their juvenile status.

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The incident follows other recent attacks against Asian Americans at public transportation facilities including an incident in New York City on May 3, in which a man attempted to forcibly remove an Asian nurse from a subway car, yelling "Hey Chinaman, you're infected.” Asian Americans continue to face backlash as a result of misinformation and anti-Asian rhetoric about how the novel coronavirus is spread. A report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in March warned individuals of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans as people made unwarranted ties to Asian American communities and the spread of COVID-19, ABC News reported. The analysis report detailed various incidents including one in which a Texas man stabbed three Asian American family members, including a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old out of fear that the family was spreading the virus.

According to BuzzFeed News, the attack has not yet been confirmed to be racially motivated nor were officials able to comment on whether the victim needed medical attention. But, whether or not the attack is a confirmed hate crime, it should not have occurred in the first place. Globally attacks against East Asian communities continue to rise amid the pandemic and must be denounced. Racism against any community should not be tolerated, elected officials and leaders must denounce crimes against people of color and actively work to break the cycle of violence and discrimination this country harvests.

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