Chinatown community calls on mayor for action after another AAPI death

The Chinatown community gathered in sorrow once more Tuesday afternoon to mourn the loss of another member of the AAPI community and to demand Mayor Eric Adams make changes.

GuiYing Ma, 61, was sweeping a Jackson Heights sidewalk on Nov. 26, 2021, when Elisaul Perez allegedly beat the senior with a rock. Ma slipped into a coma and unfortunately succumbed to her injuries on Feb. 28, according to her family.

Fuming over yet another tragic loss, community leaders and concerned residents assembled just adjacent from the residence of Christina Yuna Lee, who was murdered inside her apartment last month, to pay their respects to Ma while also calling out Mayor Adams for having been “too slow” in combating anti-Asian hate in the community. The group charged that the new mayor claims to be in conversation with the community, yet they say if this is true, they don’t have a seat at the table.

Jackie Wong carried an empty photo frame symbolizing the next victim. Photo by Dean Moses

“I understand Mayor Adams inherited this problem from the previous administration. But we need him to have direct dialogue with us to discuss the solution of this insane crime wave against Asian Americans. I don’t know whom Mayor Adams is talking to but he’s not talking to the residents of Chinatown,” Jackie Wong said, a member of the Concerned Citizens of East Broadway.

Wong clutched an empty photo frame, stating he did so since the next victim of anti-Asian hate could be anyone. Speakers pointed fingers at the homeless and mentally ill as prime culprits of committing the violent crimes while also decrying the number of homeless shelters in the neighborhood.

Many in the area feel as though Chinatown is at risk. Photo by Dean Moses

“The mental illness and the homeless are the main perpetrators of all these crimes. Anti-Asian hate crime is up 50% and now we can see around us that we have quite a few shelters,” Justin Yu said, Democrat District Leader of 65 AD.

The group said many in the community are feeling unsafe when walking the streets and that four members of the Asian Americans have been killed in the past two months. According to NYPD reports, there has been a 361% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes from 2020 to 2021.

In addition, the rise in crime coupled with the economic crisis induced by the pandemic has caused Chinatown businesses to suffer a lack of patronage. Residents are calling upon the mayor’s office and NYPD to help clean up the streets.

Despite the Concerned Citizens of East Broadway sending jabs at Adams for failing to speak with locals, the mayor’s office confirmed that the mayor met with several representatives of the AAPI community on Feb. 28. According to his office, Adams joined four of his Deputy Mayors in meeting with 23 AAPI community leaders to discuss public safety concerns. During the meeting it was reported that Adams focused talks on the establishment of several hate crime task forces.

Locals are asking Mayor Adams to step in and help solve the issue. Photo by Dean Moses