A 25-year-old black woman has been charged with hate crimes in connection with four separate and unprovoked attacks against people of Asian descent in Queens, New York.
Maricia Bell of Queens allegedly attacked three women and one man, including one aged 63 and 75, in four separate incidents in court spanning several months beginning May 23, prosecutors said Saturday.
According to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, Bell was indicted for a complaint that charged her with assault, robbery and grand theft, all as hate crimes, as well as charges of weapon possession and harassment.
“Racism is immoral and unacceptable; acting on the basis of prejudice is a crime. This defendant must answer for allegedly attacking four different victims, all persons of Asian descent, during sudden and violent outbursts of anger here in Queens County, ”Katz said in a press release.
According to the New York Post, Bell has five previous arrests. In March, the 25-year-old was charged with assault as a hate crime.
In the most recent attack, on July 21, a 75-year-old woman was hit on the head with a hammer, causing injuries. It is also alleged that Bell struck a woman on the back of the head inside a warehouse on June 16, and the following month, July 11, allegedly slapped a woman in the face and removed her mask.
Bell’s next court appearance is Aug. 16. If convicted, she faces a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
It comes amid an apparent rise in hate crimes against Asians over the past year. In 16 of the nation’s largest cities, there was an increase to 122 incidents in 2020 from 49 the previous year, according to an analysis by researchers at California State University (CSU) in San Bernardino.
Democrats have tried to blame white supremacists for hate crimes against Asians during the pandemic, claiming that former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric around the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus fueled hatred.
On May 20, President Joe Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representative Grace Meng (DN.Y.). Appoint a Department of Justice employee to expedite the review of hate crimes reported to law enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also provides guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes, expand public education campaigns, and issue guidance to combat discriminatory language when describing the pandemic.