Florida woman accused of pepper-spraying Asian women in hate crime attack in NYC, police say

A Central Florida woman has been arrested on hate crime charges after police say a video shows her allegedly pepper-spraying Asian women in New York City while making racist remarks.

Police say Madeline Barker, 47, of Merritt Island is facing several charges including attempted assault as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime, and harassment as a hate crime.

According to the New York Police Department (NYPD), on June 11, witnesses said Barker pepper-sprayed four females during a verbal fight and made anti-Asian statements at the intersection of 14th Street and Ninth Avenue in Chelsea. 

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The New York Post reports that Barker yelled at the victims, "Go back where you came from" during the attacks.

"I thought I would be safe in the middle of Chelsea, in the middle of the day, with so many people around," one of the victim's reportedly told The Post earlier this week. She went to say "it is not safe going out in the city as an Asian person. … It’s scary in New York." 

Police identified Barker as the woman in the video wearing an orange dress and pink scarf with sunglasses. The New York Post reports that she was expected to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on Saturday.

Just recently, a racist rant at an Orlando restaurant went viral after the store manager posted it to Facebook. 

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"You’re a Chinese [expletive], not me," a customer said in the rant, according to the owners of King Cajun Crawfish in Orlando. "You want me to spell it for you? You’re a Chinese [expletive]!" 

Manager Kristen Nguyen told FOX 35 News she was aware of hate crimes against Asian Americans around the country, but she was surprised when it happened here in Orlando. A report with the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Sheriff’s Liaisons in Orange County was filed. 

A study released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernadino found that anti-Asian hate crimes went up a whopping 149% between 2019 and 2020.