A prominent Asian American in Huntington says that he has been accosted recently, told to go back to China and called racist names.
Hanson Lee, a member of the Harborfields Board of Education, reported that he has been the target of racist behavior and comments a number of times.
About two weeks ago, he said that while walking in downtown Huntington, he heard footsteps behind him. Thinking that a runner was approaching, he moved over to let him pass. But the man behind him instead touched his shoulder and asked him if he was “a gook spy.” Lee replied, “No, I’m an American and a veteran.”
The man replied, “Where are you from?” and “where are your grandparents from?” and then repeatedly said, “Go back to your Chinese ancestors” before Lee walked away. He said he again heard the man’s footsteps behind him, so, distressed and believing the man was following him, he ducked into a restaurant to pull himself together where a woman asked him if he was okay.
He continued walking and spoke to someone he believed to be a town public safety officer, who, after hearing the man’s description, replied, “He’s harmless,” Lee said.
The town said they had no record of that encounter.
Lee said he notified Asian American friends, warning them to be careful.
He also said someone shouted “Go back to your country” as he was walking around Greenlawn.
And as a school board member, Lee said he has heard similar comments after contentious meetings involving people angered by state Department of Education mask mandates. While he waited for security personnel to escort him to his car recently, someone shouted, “Hey you, corona,” as he started to walk away.
Reports of slurs and assaults against Asian Americans have been on the rise around the country as some people blame them for Covid-19 epidemic. The virus was first reported in China.
Lee is the head of a clinical lab in Farmingdale.