A 61-Year-Old Asian Man Is Fighting for His Life After Being Repeatedly Stomped in the Head

Yao Pan Ma is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator, and hasn’t woken up since the incident.
​Image of Yao Pan Ma on a GoFundMe page that has so far raised $90,000.
Image of Yao Pan Ma on a GoFundMe page that has so far raised $90,000. (Source: GoFundMe)

Yao Pan Ma was filling a shopping cart with recyclables for extra income in East Harlem Friday when he was knocked to the sidewalk and repeatedly stomped in the head until he lay motionless on the sidewalk. 

In video released by the New York Police Department of the horrific attack, the 61-year-old Chinese immigrant can be seen lying prone on the sidewalk as his attacker, dressed in all black and a red hat, stomps him with full force at least six times in the head. Now, Ma is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator, and hasn’t woken up since the incident, according to New York Daily News

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“I feel very unsafe and I am very worried that my husband is not going to make it,” Baozhen Chen, Ma’s wife, told New York Daily News. “I want the police to capture the person as soon as possible.”

The couple moved to New York City in 2019 to find a better life for themselves and two adult children who are still living in China. Ma worked in a Chinatown restaurant as he was originally a dessert chef in China. He lost his job in the pandemic, however, and turned to trading in recyclables for extra income.

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An image of he suspect in the brutal attack. (Source: NYPD)

“He was just trying to help out the family,” Chen told New York Daily News. “He had no bad intentions. He wouldn’t cause trouble with other people in his neighborhood.”

Ma is now fighting for his life at Harlem Hospital, and a vigil is planned in his honor outside the medical center at 6 p.m. Monday. Over the weekend, many community members marched in solidarity with the family in East Harlem, and a GoFundMe with nearly $90,000 raised has been started to offer the family some assistance during these dark times. 

“I’m very scared right now,” Chen said. “I’m so worried that my husband might never come back.”

Ma’s brutal attack is yet another in a year when anti-Asian hate has skyrocketed across the country, with racially bigoted language surrounding the pandemic largely to blame. Attacks have risen at an exponential rate, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University has San Bernardino has found, citing a 149 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes from 2019 to 2020. The study shows the surge in violence is especially severe in coastal cities like New York and San Francisco

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Sunday that he has directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to also investigate Ma’s attack. 

“I'm sickened to learn of yet another bigoted act of violence against an Asian American man,” Cuomo said in the statement. “This is not who we are as New Yorkers, and we will not let these cowardly acts of hate against members of our New York family intimidate us. We stand united with the Asian American community which has always been an important part of our diverse identity as a state.”

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