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EAST SIDE, Manhattan — A man is wanted for striking a woman in a Manhattan subway station Saturday night after he made anti-Asian statements, police said.

The incident occurred at around 8:44 p.m. at the East 51st Street and Lexington Avenue station. A 37-year-old woman who works as a nurse was walking through when she was approached by the man, who struck her in the face with his hand and made derogatory statements. The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force tweeted that those statements were anti-Asian.

The man exited the station on foot. The victim was not seriously injured and refused medical attention.

The individual wanted for questioning in this incident is described as a male between 20-30 years of age.

This comes amid a surge of anti-Asian bias incidents and hate crimes across the metropolitan area.

Prior to Sunday, there have been at least 27 additional anti-Asian incidents this year, including 12 assaults, compared with eight at the same time last year, according to Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, commanding officer of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

Residents and activists have shown support for Asian communities and those affected by the violence at demonstrations across the city as well as in New Jersey. On Saturday, rallies will take place in Lower Manhattan and Fort Lee, New Jersey.

The NYPD announced on Thursday it planned to increase outreach and patrols in Asian communities.

The department is sending undercover officers to neighborhoods with significant Asian populations in an attempt to prevent and disrupt attacks, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. 

The undercover officers are being trained and will be on patrol by the end of the weekend, Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said.

The NYPD started an Asian Hate Crime Task Force last year amid increasing attacks as the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States.

Former President Donald Trump repeatedly used xenophobic terms to refer to the virus that originated in China’s Wuhan province. Critics say the former president’s language stoked violence against Asian Americans and immigrants.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.