17 y/o TikTok Star Gets Slashed - Asian Hate Crimes in New York Continue to Spike.

Updated: Jul 8

4/6/2022

3:00 PM EST

New York, NY

New York City: A place where we must be on high alert the second we step out our door. As an Asian-American owned business, there are no words to describe the hate crimes currently targeting the Asian community in NYC. As an underground collective of creatives coming from all backgrounds, UGNY condemns any and all acts of violence against the Asian or any community.


Over the last few weeks, UGNY got the privilege to catch up with TikTok star Michael Chen on his own personal encounter with a man, a knife, and slurred hate speech. On March 12, 2022, a night out with friends turns violent when Michael gets slashed in the neck with a knife. Nearly a month goes by and the assailant is still at large, leaving the case unpursued by NYPD.


We introduce this story as we launch UGNY x #StopAsianHate: A campaign focused on advocacy, knowledge, and bringing awareness to the current hate crimes targeting the Asian community not only in NYC, but state and country wide. Over the next months to come, stay tuned as UGNY collaborates with other Asian owned businesses and creatives in order to amplify awareness and #StopAsianHate.


****TRIGGER WARNING: Blood. Graphic descriptions and images of knife wounds/ violence. Hate speech.**




Photos by Michael Chen, 3/12/2022 via Instagram @mcplaygt.

 

Disclaimer: This interview was held on March 16, 2022.

UGNY- So we would like to start off with the simplest question of “What exactly happened that night?”. We want our readers to be able to hear and visualize it from your point of view.


Michael Chen- At this point, I’ve done so many interviews where it’s just repeating the same thing. My name is Michael Chen, some of you might know me by social media platforms (Instagram, TikTok, Twitter) as @mcplaygt. A little bit of background on myself: When I was younger I wanted to become a content creator so I started pursuing that when I was 12. That’s where I started making videos with my mom during the pandemic- it was such a sad time. I love making people laugh and smile because I’m honestly just a comedian. Recently I was attacked, slashed in the neck. Friday, March 11th in the late afternoon I was going to a party on the Upper East Side and I decided to meet up with my girlfriend (Claire). I met her at a bar called Thieves Tavern. All of a sudden it wasn’t just us and some friends, it was a big group that gathered around, either school friends or people from the bar.


The night got later. We were leaving the place we were at (Thieves) and we wanted to get food- it was about 1:00 AM at this point. Once my girlfriend and a few other (female) friends walked out, these guys started hitting on them. Depending on the situation, if one of my friends is being hit on, I will usually make sure I have a surrounding of other guys around me If I’m going to intervene… in this situation I was the only guy. There were three or four guys that started approaching all the girls around me asking, “Hey, what’s up? How you doin?”, basically just catcalling. I kept to myself because it’s not my thing to jump in. It also just seemed pretty normal, it’s like the guys are hitting on the girls, do your thing, then we’ll get going.


The girls then began to use me as a decoy, saying I was one of their boyfriends. I played along because I just wanted to defuse the situation as quick as possible. One of the guys asked how I pulled all these girls, a girl behind me who was kind of drunk said it’s because I have 5 million followers on TikTok. Now this is when the guy started getting confrontational. One of the guys shouted, “Oh I’m famous too, I bet I can pay this guy (referring to me) a hundred bucks right now, he’d leave you, and you can come with me for the night!” The girls got angry and started walking away from him. The same guy turned to me and asked me how I pulled all of these girls? I honestly just said, “Be yourself and things will just come to you.” It was not in a cocky or mean way. It was more of a genuine answer that I would tell anyone else. I told the guy to have a great night, turned to Claire as she got into a car with some other girls, and told them we would meet them at the next location. The other four girls that were with me wanted to walk it off after the altercation just happened.

We start walking southbound of Bowery, past Seven Eleven near Thieves Tavern. We cross the street and as we’re crossing, the same guy came up from behind me and slashed my neck. At first when I got hit I thought it was a slap, because I’ve never been slashed before. So I finish crossing the street, I turn around and he calls me a “pussy ass chink”. I looked back and yelled, the girls also yelled something, I started walking away and then two seconds later I realize blood, just dripping down. I touch my neck and that’s when I realized you know, guys… I just got slashed. They didn’t believe me at first so they turned around and they just see blood on my hands and on my whole neck. This guy is now walking back to Thieves, the girls are yelling, they’re telling me I’m fine and that I’m okay but I was like, “No, I’m not fine.” I called 911, two of the girls I was with got a security guard to get napkins and be near me. The other girls ran to a cop car nearby. This is about 1:30 AM now.


After that, I just couldn’t believe it honestly. I never thought I would get into a situation like this. Once I had finished the call with 911, the police arrived, there were like four cop cars. Claire found out because one of my friends texted her. She started crying, it was just… and at that point I was just at a loss for words because I didn’t know if the guy had hit something really important in my neck. I was just scared. Before the ambulance came, some of the girls ran back towards Thieves and tried to get pictures and a name. He just kept gaslighting them saying, “Nah, you’re just drunk nothing happened, you’re drunk!”- So yeah, that’s what happened.


UGNY- It all happened so quick. You didn’t even know you got slashed with a knife, you thought you got slapped? As you’re in the current situation and you have that realization that you got slashed, you’re bleeding, you’re covered in blood, you’re calling the cops… were you in pain? Did it hurt? Or was the adrenaline just rushing? What was going through your mind in the current situation?


MC- If I’m being one-hundred percent honest, I was so numb. I was so numb to where I didn’t hear anything. I told the police he called me a pussy ass ‘C’. I didn’t say the word chink because I didn’t know for sure if he called me that. I didn’t want to immediately identify this as a hate crime. The first thing I wanted to do was make sure that’s what he said. He hit my ear whenever he slashed me so my ear was kind of ringing and I really couldn’t tell. The next day when I was catching up with my friends to figure out what happened after the hospital I asked them, “Did he call me a chink?” and they said yes.

That’s when I confirmed it and added it to the detective’s report. I don’t know if they even wrote that down or anything but I hope they did. I don’t want to call something a hate crime until I know it’s a hate crime. I felt at first he was jealous, and what got me so mad was that there were so many other girls and so many other guys there. Why are you choosing the guy surrounded by girls, Asian, short, and obviously cannot fight. There were plenty of other guys and you have to target me? If you see me in person, I’m pretty frail. I’m 5’10. That night I was wearing a suit-type fit and it just happened to make my arms look small.

UGNY- Well this is someone who basically looks at you and thinks, ‘Okay, I can definitely take this guy.’ But that shouldn’t even be up for discussion. Just because you have that build, it makes you a target? And again in regards to the Asian community, because we look and are the way we are, we are a walking target?


MC- There are people who comment on my content on social media saying that it wasn’t a hate crime and it was just jealousy. Listen, if he just slashed me and called me a pussy, I would agree and think he was just jealous. But when he called me a chink, I’m just like, what was that for? It’s out of context, out of nowhere, and yeah, that’s just how I felt.


UGNY- Do you truly, truly believe that the police, detectives, and NYPD are going to do right by you and do everything they can to catch this guy? Because he was never apprehended, he’s still out there.


MC- They found the guy who assaulted an Asian woman 125 times or something like that in less than a day. My assailant went to Thieves Tavern again the day after. Claire went too and asked some friends if that was the guy. They went to the security guard and the security guard dismissed them and said it wasn’t him. Either A) There’s some under the table money thing going on around there, or B) It really wasn’t him. I wanted to make sure. I told the police I had a name and they said they would look into it. I gave it to them yesterday and I haven’t gotten anything today. It’s been four days now, so I think this is day five that he’s still out there. What bothers me the most is that the detectives haven’t even contacted me. I even asked them if I could please see the video footage, please see what happened that night. I really want to see that footage and they said, “Unfortunately due to be the press and media, we can’t release it.” Listen, I want to see it for my own sanity- I have the right to see it. They said they can’t show it because “it’ll change your perspective.” But I want to see it. I can’t get over the fact like, how did he run up behind me and I didn’t even notice? That’s my only issue right now is trying to get that footage for myself and our community to catch this guy.

UGNY- No one thinks that they’ll be a target. As you previously stated, you were numb, you were kind of in shock, no one thinks, ‘This will happen to me.’ Can you elaborate on how safe you feel people need to be these days?


MC- I would say, and this is towards anyone, “If you think you’re safe in NYC, you better carry a taser or pepper spray, a gun? And that’s to maybe feel safe.” Maybe they might not run up behind you like my guy did, but if he can hold a box cutter why can’t I have something like that in my pocket? They say weapons are illegal, but there are so many people that I’ve seen with weapons, I might as well carry a baseball bat wherever I go.


UGNY- But this is also what you feel like you must do to feel safe. Feeling unsafe in your own home, in your own city, is a horrible feeling. It’s unfortunate that this is your reality right now, as well as many other Asian people in New York. Not only that but you’re seventeen years old. It’s not just the elderly being attacked anymore, but anyone who other people consider as a target. Can I ask how is your family reacting to this?


MC- My mom honestly said that this is so normal. She didn’t have a tear. She had a tear when I teared up but she wasn’t crying. I was really expecting her to be crying but she told me, “I told you so. I sent you news articles.” And it’s true, she did send me news articles about current events and I chose to ignore it because I didn’t want to see the negative side of things. You know, I saw the signs. I saw it


UGNY- Do you have siblings? How did they feel about the situation?

MC- I have a sister. She wanted to, I’m not gonna say the exact words, but she wanted to find that person. She was going on a hunt. She is my older sister, she’s almost 24. She also does TikTok but she’s also finishing college.


UGNY- Because your sister and your mom are females as well as being an Asian minority, how do you feel about their safety?


MC- My sister, she knows her people around and people know her. If anyone messes with my sister, they’re getting all of us, you know? There’s just no way else to say that. Everyone will be there if you hurt my sister, me, or my family. A lot of people are saying just because the guy who attacked me was black he wasn’t being racist. I have a lot of Arabic friends. I’m usually the only Asian person around, basically I’m like a little brother to them. They would protect me like I’m apart of their community and like I’m one of their brothers. I feel like if they were there that day, none of this would have ever happened. But my assailant targeted me because I was alone, it was just bad timing.


UGNY- It’s all very unfortunate because we’re all minorities. Minorities hating on minorities, and hurting minorities… for what? It’s something that’s very hard to understand. We saw a picture of the assailant and will also be sharing the image with our readers. You’re pushing very hard for the world to share his face?


MC- Yes, this guy is on NYPD tips. He’s still out there and I don’t understand how @NYPDTips is still showing footage of other robberies but they refuse to show the footage of mine. I still can’t get access to the security camera. Where is my representation? They show everything else but they can’t show my video. They show a picture but how much is this picture supposed to do? People want to see what happened, they want to visualize what happened. Is this something I’m making up? Am I lying? I want people to see how this all happened- they need to see it. Because me explaining it, and I’m a horrible explainer, I wish there was another way of showing it to people who want to see the truth and how they could have changed the situation if they were in my shoes.


UGNY- This is exactly why we reached out. We felt that the public needed to hear your side of the story, but in depth and in detail. The magazine is doing this for our community and for people like you. A lot of people don’t feel safe right now. A lot of people of the Asian community are afraid that is their reality. What is your ethnicity and where is your family from?


MC- I am Taiwanese. My mom is Cantonese, she’s from Hong Kong, and my dad is from Taiwan. Honestly, before this experience I was planning on going to college in the city, but now I think I’m gonna go to college at St. John’s in Queens.


UGNY- The most frustrating part is why is this not being covered in depth? And why is there not as much representation from other communities? Why aren’t these specific hate crimes against the Asian community getting more attention? Why are our stories not being heard or shared more?


MC- My video that I posted about this attack reached out to 300,000 people. I don’t care how many likes I get or whatever, but the shares only got about 20,000. I’m also a talent manager so I do a lot of analytics on how things move and engage within social media. This video didn’t get shared as much as my other videos. And here’s the thing, and I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else, but I’m a minor. I’m literally still a child. There are elders out there that don’t have social media but I have social media which means I can post and share my story as much as I want. These elders of our community couldn’t do that. It’s just crazy to me.

UGNY- It is. And unfortunately it’s a shame to be a part of a culture that also feeds off of events like these for social gain.


MC- This is what I told myself a few months back, and this is based on my personal experience. I told my mom I was a little bit scared to go on the subway and she asked why? I said, “Well if a Black man gets jumped, and there are Black people on the train, it’s most likely that other people of Black community will jump in and help. However, if an Asian man got jumped, would the Asians in my community help me?” And the answer is no. I’ve experienced this and I’ve seen footage of this: an Asian man being attacked and everyone just watched. How come my Asian brothers and sisters can’t fight with me or step in for me? If someone gets hurt on the train and I’m there, no matter what race I am, I’m there and I’m helping out- that’s just New York culture honestly. Asian culture is very selfish. A majority of my followers are not Asian. Where is the support from other people of the Asian community. Just because I got attacked, you’re going to rise up after the fact? You have to rise up before and during. I don’t know, that’s just how I really feel and I haven’t told any other news article that. I’m opening up a little more here. We don’t really have that type of support form our own community, our Asian community.

UGNY- And this is something that you’ve analyzed yourself?


MC- Yes because I do talent management I look at analytics. I love reading charts, graphs, everything like that, and I just see these things. I ask myself what am I doing wrong? If I was White would this be different? If I was Black would my numbers be different? I always wonder to myself.


UGNY- Perhaps it’s because the Asian community has been suppressed for so long, for centuries, and still to this day Asians are scared? Many Asians are afraid to step into a fight or stand up to bullies and people who are throwing hate because for so long Asians have been pushed aside and shoved under the rug. We still are.

MC- It’s weird because my school is a majority Asian. They stay in their little groups, they don’t talk to anyone outside their small cliques, just themselves. You can’t stay with one group forever. You gotta meet new people, learn a new language, a new culture, something. Why are we all in groups? Why can’t we all interact? We’re all being segregated but it’s by choice. It’s still a problem even within my generation.


UGNY- That’s extremely surprising because you would think because it’s 2022 there would be a little bit more diversity in friend groups amongst people in high school. There is no disrespect when we say this but you’re literally a kid. You’re a teenager and this happened to you in real life.

MC- I have a baby face. I hang out with a lot of older people because I like to learn from them. I like to take what they’ve experienced and what they may have done wrong and apply that to my life and make sure I don’t go down the wrong path.


I can and will say this because I feel like I have to: I was supposed to meet an NYPD commission officer and I was supposed to hand them a note during this gathering slash meeting with a bunch a very important people one day- governors, mayors, all people of authority. They basically invited me there but didn’t allow me to speak and tell me a story. I was like, ‘What? We’re not important? Okay understood. We’re not important enough.’ And I looked at my mom, “You know, there’s a lot of important people up there and I wish we could tell everyone what happened”. It’s just crazy that I was invited by someone to explain my story and I then couldn’t even go up. They told me to write a letter and hand it off.


UGNY- In general, how do you feel about the overall hate crimes going on amongst the Asian community in New York right now?


MC- I don’t know if it’s gonna change to be honest with you. I’m just lucky to have a platform for people to speak out and get more of a wide reach but even I don’t have enough power to tell the whole world. And the same thing happened the next day where a woman was assaulted 125 times or something. I watched that video. That could’ve been anyone, that could’ve been me. I would put a bet on it and say maybe in 10 years we’ll see change… and that’s like a maybe. We have a long way to go and for now all we can do is amplify and use our platform to spread awareness. I just want people to be safe out there- any New Yorker, anyone in general. Asian, Black, or White, but especially right now for Asians due to the spikes recently.

 

Despite sharing his story, Michael still receives hate comments on his social media about how the altercation was somehow justified. “You’re just doing this for clout, take self-defense classes, carry a gun, this happens every day shut up about it…” All examples of some of the comments left on Michael’s social media platforms. “Someone even said, ‘You got a papercut, deal with it.’”

Images via Michael’s Snapchat and @dramaalert.


Michael got attacked on March 12, 2022. Today is April 6, 2022 and the assailant has not been apprehended or pursued further by police. Michael still has not been able to access the security cam footage from the night of his attack. An image of Chen’s attacker can be seen below. If anyone has knowledge or information about this man and his whereabouts please contact NYPD.





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