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Photo: Susan Lee Facebook Page
The NYC City Council candidate recently came out with her experience being attacked on New York City's subway system. Photo: Susan Lee Facebook Page

Asian-American NYC City Council candidate recounts her subway attack on social media

Candidate Susan Lee says she avoids the subway after a woman attempted to push her down the stairs at a station in February.

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Susan Lee, who is running for City Council in Lower Manhattan’s District 1, recently took to social media to share details about a distressing experience she had at a subway station last month.

The 42-year-old City Council candidate told the New York Post last week about the terrifying incident that transpired while she was walking down a flight of stairs at the World Trade Center Station on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Lee described her perpetrator as someone who appeared to be experiencing homelessness, and had a “mischievous look” on her face. Lee, who was alone at the time, recalled thinking “oh gosh, this isn’t good.”

The woman attempted to push Lee down the stairs, but Lee took a moment before the attack to brace herself by grabbing the handrail very tightly. She also had her other hand covering her face. 

“If I wasn’t prepared for her to push me, I would have fallen all the way down the stairs,” she added. 

Lee only fell down a few steps and walked away from the incident with minimal injuries — just a sprained ankle — but it left her feeling unsafe in her own city. 

She immediately headed home after the attack. Fearing that something even worse could happen to her, Lee has been hesitant to travel via subway since. 

“Now I’m always walking,” she said.

The aspiring City Councilmember is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, and is well aware of the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, but is unsure of whether or not the attack was racially motivated. 

In a press release she posted on her Instagram page on Tuesday, March 29, Lee shared that campaigning “in the era of COVID-19 isn’t easy.”

“However, what I was not prepared for was the danger and harassment I experience every day on the campus trail,” she added.

Lee also told the New York Post about the exponential increase in anti-Asian assaults and harassment occurring in her city. 

“Since the beginning of 2021 in NYC, 23 anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported, compared to 29 during all of 2020. Campaigning during a pandemic is difficult, but to add the fear or injury or worse because of the way I look was something I never contemplated or considered,” Lee said.

Lee reported the incident 10 days later, after her colleagues and family convinced her that it was necessary. Authorities have yet to determine the identity and location of the suspect. 

As Lee told reporters at the New York Post, it is possible that the suspect attacked Lee simply because she was alone, but a hate crime cannot yet be ruled out.

On Monday, March 29, in front of 360 West 43rd Street in Midtown, an elderly Asian woman was kicked, causing her to fall to the ground. While she was on the ground, the perpetrator continued to strike her and made anti-Asian statements towards her.

The man fled the scene, and workers across the street reported seeing another man chase down the assailant to confront him, but the perpetrator pulled out a knife and got away. 

The victim was taken to a hospital, left with a fractured pelvis and a head contusion. 

“You try to make sense of it, and you can’t. I don’t know who attacks a 65-year-old woman and leaves her on the street like that,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. 

This is just one example of the countless hate crimes that have been occurring in NYC and all across the country. 

In response, New York City officials have recently launched an all-Asian undercover team of officers to patrol the streets to prevent and disrupt harassment and assaults. Community members have organized a patrol group of their own in Flushing, Queens to achieve similar results. 

In the press release posted to Twitter and Instagram, Lee reflected on what happened to her and demonstrated strength and unity with her fellow community members that are just as afraid and traumatized as she is. 

“I am lucky I was able to walk away from this incident, however, I know many of my Asian-American peers have not been as fortunate. I stand in solidarity with my community as we continue to fight against anti-Asian hate crimes,” Lee wrote.

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