A Florida woman is facing hate crime charges for allegedly pepper-spraying a group of Asian women in New York last weekend and yelling racist remarks, WABC-TV reports.
Police in Manhattan have arrested 47-year-old Madeline Barker on charges of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime and harassment as a hate crime in connection with the June 11 incident.
Barker, of Merritt Island, Florida, was caught on video screaming at the victims “Go back where you came from!” and attacking them with pepper spray in the Chelsea neighborhood.
Three of the victims spoke with the television station about what happened. They said they were having a conversation when a stranger who had her back to them interjected.
“She turned around and she was like, ‘you guys are trying to harass me,'” one victim told WABC-TV.
“I said, ‘we’re not trying to bother you,’” another victim told the television station.
One of the victims even offered an apology, telling the woman, “I’m sorry, we didn’t intend to make you feel that way,” WABC-TV reports.
The group of Asian women in their 20s then started recording the woman as she spewed a tirade of anti-Asian remarks.
“Saying like, go back to where you came from, you don’t belong here,” one victim told the television station. “She pointed to an Asian bystander who was a man, we didn’t know who he was, pointed at him and said take your (expletive) back to your country.”
“We distanced ourselves, we tried to do the right thing,” another victim told WABC-TV.
The woman then took out a can of pepper spray, squirted it at the group and ran away.
The victims said they were temporarily immobilized following the attack, although they did not require medical attention, WNBC-TV reports.
One of the victims got a message from another individual who said the same woman had pepper-sprayed and harassed three other people earlier in the day, including a 13-year-old girl, WABC-TV reports.
“It’s not like we haven’t had racist remarks towards us growing up, but this was like the first time we’ve ever felt it to this physical extent,” one victim told WABC-TV.
Barker was awaiting arraignment as of Saturday morning, according to CNN.
To report information about Barker, call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.