Authorities on Tuesday arrested a man on suspicion of stabbing two Asian women without warning in downtown San Francisco.
Officers were dispatched to 4th and Stockton streets shortly before 5 p.m. and found the injured women, who were taken to hospital, according to the Associated Press. There was no immediate word on their conditions.
Witnesses told KPIX-TV that a man holding a knife was walking down Market Street when he approached a bus stop, stabbed the women, and then walked away.
Police did not immediately say whether women were specifically targeted or whether the attack could be a hate crime.
Matt Haney, a representative of the San Francisco Supervisory Board, expressed outrage on Tuesday at the incident.
“Disgusting and horrific attack on Market St this afternoon by two elderly Asian people,” he said on twitter. “I have been in close contact with the SFFD and SFPD. The suspect has just been arrested. The victims are in hospital. #StopTheAttacks #StopAsianHate.”
Asian Americans have been the target of several unprovoked attacks in the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of the country in recent months. The attacks are believed to stem mainly from misguided anger over the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China.
Anti-Asian hashtags have skyrocketedafter Donald Trump first linked COVID-19 to China on Twitter, study finds
Related:Asian woman attacked in New York City by stranger with hammer asks victim to remove mask, police say
Former President Donald Trump has frequently drawn widespread criticism for his anti-China rhetoric. Anti-Asian prejudice and attacks have grown exponentially over the past year in conjunction with this rhetoric.
Asian Americans made up about 6.7 million people in California in 2019, by far the largest in the country, according to the Pew Research Center.
Last weekend, two Asian women were attacked in New York City by an unknown man who asked them to remove their masks before hitting one in the head with a hammer, police said.
In March, the Stop AAPI Hate organization – founded last year in response to increased targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic – said it had received reports of nearly 3,800 hate incidents in a year and felt it was only a fraction of the real number.
The Cal San Bernardino State Center for Hate and Extremism Studies saw a 164% increase in reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in the first quarter of 2021 compared to last year in 16 cities and jurisdictions across the country.
Contribute: The Associated Press