Community activists in Flatbush say the NYPD is failing to properly investigate a racist subway attack over the weekend, in which a woman was stabbed by a white man who allegedly shouted that she was a “black bitch.”
Ann Marie Washington, 57, was exiting the Q train at Church Avenue in Flatbush on Friday night when she was punched in the face and stabbed in the back by the man, according to family members and local activists. She was transported to Kings County Hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery for a collapsed lung.
Washington, a home health aide and mother of two, said that she was on her way home from work when the attack took place. She said the man fled on the Q train, and described him as 5’3″, in his early 30s, wearing sweatpants and a black hoodie.
Police have not released security camera footage from the incident or a sketch of the alleged attacker. The NYPD described the incident as an “attempted robbery,” and initially said that it was not being investigated as a hate crime. Despite the woman’s injuries, and testimony from witnesses who saw the aftermath of the attack, the initial police report did not include any mention of the woman being stabbed.
On Sunday, community advocates held a news conference accusing the NYPD of unequal enforcement priorities, and demanding that police release all evidence related to the incident, including surveillance footage.
“This is a white man yelling misogynist, racist things while punching and stabbing someone, but police downplayed it because it was a black woman attacked by a white man,” Imani Henry, the founder of Equality for Flatbush, told Gothamist. “It’s only because of the community speaking out that it got bumped up to a hate crime.”
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is reportedly looking into the incident, though a police spokesperson told Gothamist on Monday morning that they could not confirm whether this was the case.
Anthony Beckford, a community advocate who’s been in touch with the victim and her family, pointed to recent incidents of racism in Flatbush and across the city as evidence of the NYPD’s “lackadaisical” approach to investigating incidents in which black people are targeted.
“‘They’re emboldened and they think they can get away with it, because they have been getting away with it,” he said. “You see what happened with the Proud Boys a few weeks ago, you have white women calling 911 on black kids for nothing—it’s escalating because of who is in office.”
Last week, NYPD leadership said there had been 309 hate crimes reported so far this year—up from 297 over the same period in 2017. About half of those reported incidents have been anti-Semitic in nature. Both anti-Semitic and racist hate crimes have increased since the election of Donald Trump two years ago.
According to Beckford, the NYPD’s enforcement of hate crimes is not equally applied among minority communities. He noted that while footage of young black kids throwing a pipe through a synagogue window was widely shared by police, the department has not yet released any information about the suspect who scrawled “kill all n-iggers” on the African Burial Ground Monument earlier this month.
“I’m angry and frustrated,” Beckford told Gothamist. “This women nearly lost her life, she still has bruises, still has tubes coming out of her body, and police couldn’t even be bothered to show up for her.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will hold a press conference outside the subway station at 3 p.m. today; according to the announcement Adams will “join Washington’s family, witnesses to the assault, and community members in urging the MTA to immediately release and circulate any images of the suspect, as well as for the NYPD to apprehend him and charge him with a hate crime.”