A 51-year-old man by the name of Jarrod Powell has been sentenced to 22 years in prison after admitting to committing a brutal and fatal attack on a 61-year-old immigrant named Yao Pan Ma in East Harlem two years ago. According to prosecutors, Powell pleaded guilty to manslaughter as a hate crime. Ma spent eight months in a coma before succumbing to the injuries he sustained during the attack.
During the sentencing, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg released a statement expressing that no one should feel unsafe because of their background in New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world. The killing of Ma occurred during a wave of violence against people of Asian descent in New York City and the United States in general, which began with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. This surge in hate crimes prompted leaders in the Asian American community to call for increased action to address the issue.
Sadly, this is not the first time individuals of Asian descent have been the victims of hate crimes in recent years. In November 2021, GuiYing Ma, a 61-year-old Chinese immigrant, was fatally beaten while sweeping a Queens sidewalk. In January, her attacker was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In January 2022, Michelle Alyssa Go was pushed to her death by a mentally ill man at the Times Square subway station. The following month, Christina Yuna Lee was fatally stabbed by a man who followed her into her apartment from the street. And in March 2022, a 28-year-old man was charged with seven counts of assault and attempted assault after a two-hour spree of attacks on women of Asian descent in Manhattan.
The police reported that Powell had suddenly shoved Ma from behind as he was pushing a grocery cart full of bottles and cans near 125th Street and Third Avenue. Video footage revealed that after Ma collapsed, Powell had stomped on his head and kicked him multiple times in the face.
At the time of the attack, Ma and his wife, Baozhen Chen, had moved to New York City from China’s Guangdong Province in 2019, leaving their two adult children behind. Ma, who had worked as a dessert chef in China, lost his job at a New York restaurant during the pandemic and, as a result, began collecting discarded cans on the street to make ends meet.
As of Friday, Bragg’s office has 39 open cases of anti-Asian hate crimes. It is essential that we work together to address and combat hate crimes, promoting tolerance, acceptance, and diversity in our communities.