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Knife-wielding man punches men for speaking Cantonese in Brooklyn, sprays them with chemical

Screenshot from video below

Thomas Tracy

New York Daily News

An unhinged bigot was caught on video punching three men for speaking Cantonese on a Brooklyn street before flashing a knife and spraying them with a noxious chemical, police said Thursday.

The attack comes as hate crimes against Asians have quadrupled in the city this year, police said.

The three victims, who are between 51 and 57 years old, were chatting on 20th Ave. near 64th St. in Bensonhurst about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when the assailant walked by. He mocked the victims’ language and hurled anti-Asian slurs at them, sparking an argument, cops said.

As the argument heated up, the stranger punched one of the victims in the face and pulled out a knife and a small canister of pepper spray or a similar noxious substance, cops said.

Surveillance video shows the bearded bigot, sporting a gray hoodie, black pants and black sandals, spraying his three victims before walking off down 20th Ave. EMS took the three men to Maimonides Medical Center with minor injuries.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating.

The attack outraged local legislators, who demanded a swift arrest Thursday.

“This was a despicable and horrific hate crime,” Councilman Mark Treyger (D- Brooklyn) said on Facebook. “We all have a responsibility to root hate and intolerance out. Let’s bring this person to justice, and I will also make contact with the Brooklyn district attorney’s office to ensure there is accountability once this person is apprehended.”

The attack is the latest in a monthslong wave of anti-Asian hate crimes in the city fueled by the COVID pandemic.

As of Oct. 24, police have investigated 123 anti-Asian hate crimes citywide this year compared with 28 by this time last year, officials said. The crimes range from unprovoked assaults to harsh words spewed by strangers.

In August, a man punched an Asian woman in the head during an unprovoked confrontation in Manhattan, demanding that she go back to her country. Suspect Vincent Diehl, 47, was ultimately arrested and charged with committing a hate crime.

A month earlier, an unhinged woman spat at a 26-year-old Asian woman on the Upper West Side, demanding that she “speak English,” officials said.

Anti-Asian hate crimes rose by 73% nationwide in 2020, the FBI announced last month. In total, the bureau identified 279 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, compared with 161 the year prior.

Cops are asking the public’s help identifying the attacker in Tuesday’s incident and tracking him down. He is described as Black, between 25 and 35 years old and 220 to 225 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

©2021 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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