By MARLENE LENTHANG, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- A man was arrested for allegedly threatening to stab an Asian undercover police officer in the face at Penn Station in New York City.
On Friday, Juvian Rodriguez, 35, approached a New York Police Department officer who was undercover as they were both on an escalator near 7th Avenue and 32nd Street entering the station, and started shouting anti-Asian statements, police said.
Rodriguez allegedly told the officer to "go back to China before you end up in the graveyard," according to local ABC station WABC. He then threatened to stab the officer in the face, WABC reported. He was arrested inside the station around 1:20 p.m. according to police.
Rodriguez is charged with harassment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment based on race or religion, menacing as a hate crime, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to the NYPD.
Rodriguez was freed but placed under supervised released following his arraignment, the district attorney's office told ABC News.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have surged over the past four years. The coronavirus pandemic and its suspected origins in Wuhan, China, have been cited by advocates as one motive for the surge in anti-Asian discrimination in the United States over the last year.
From March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, there were more than 3,795 hate incidents, including verbal harassment and physical assault, against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks such incidents.
The NYPD announced last month it was increasing patrols and adding undercover officers in areas with significant Asian American populations to curb crimes.
"The next person you target, whether it's through speech, menacing activity or anything else, walking along a sidewalk or on a train platform, may be a plainclothes New York City police officer. So think twice," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said during a March 25 press conference.
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