Asian Woman Slapped on Philly Street; Advocates Call Violence ‘So Chilling'

The woman was walking only a few blocks from Chinatown

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What to Know

  • A woman of Asian descent was slapped by a man on a busy Philadelphia street Sunday
  • The man never stopped, but was caught by police shortly after
  • Passersby stopped to check on the victim and get police

A woman of Asian descent was randomly attacked on Easter Sunday afternoon while walking on a busy Philadelphia street.

A man walking by slapped her as she walked with a friend. The attacker kept walking, surveillance footage shows. The attack happened on 11th Street near Filbert, outside of the Fashion District mall.

People stopped to check on the victim, and one flagged down police. Police quickly tracked down the suspect, whom police identified as Alex White, a 30-year-old homeless man.

Police say they don't believe the attack was racially motivated, but the attack happened just a few blocks from Philadelphia's Chinatown.

Physical attacks make up 12 percent of acts against Asian-American people this year, according to Stop AAPI Hate. That advocacy group received more than 2,800 reports of hate incidents directed at Asian Americans nationwide last year.

Attacks have been reported across the country. A 84-year-old Thai immigrant in San Francisco died after being violently shoved to the ground during his morning walk; an 89-year-old Chinese woman was slapped and set on fire by two people in Brooklyn, New York. And a man is charged with slaying six Asian women in spas in Georgia.

“If you have a string of completely random isolated attacks on people who are Asian, it forms a pattern," said Dr. Karen Tang, a doctor who advocates against discrimination and violence toward Asian people.

“I worked in the Philadelphia hospitals and very often walked in that same area," Tang said. "That’s what is so chilling.”

“A lot of the stuff I’m seeing now, I never saw growing up,” said Dana Spann, a resident of East Falls. “It’s unfortunate that she is of Asian descent because that just adds another layer to it.

“Everybody deserves respect regardless of whether police thought this was a racially motivated attack," Spann added.

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