Assemblymember David Weprin Joins Borough President Richards, Council Member Koo, and Others to Condemn Recent Attack, Rising Hate Crimes

Rally comes on the heels of attack against Nepal-born Lyft driver in Queens

Queens, New York – Assemblymember David I. Weprin today joined Borough President Donovan Richards, Council Member Peter Koo, and a host of other elected officials and community leaders to show their support for a Nepal-born Lyft driver recently assaulted while driving in the borough, condemning the recent rise in hate crimes in New York City.

The driver, Ashish Sapkota, was assaulted on March 16th after two passengers began fighting in the backseat of his Lyft car while on the Van Wyck Expressway. Sapkota pulled over to mediate the disagreement but was punched in the head by one of the passengers. He continued to drive until he got to Hillside Avenue, when the two passengers exited the vehicle. He remains shaken by the attack and Lyft has banned the passengers from ever using the rideshare service in the future.

“Ashish Sapkota is a hardworking Queens resident supporting his family in Nepal. This brutal, unprovoked attack is nothing less than unacceptable,” said Assemblymember Weprin. “The NYPD should investigate this incident as a hate crime and ensure justice for Mr. Sapkota. I thank my colleagues in government for joining together today to condemn this despicable action. No one in the greatest city in the world should be forced to live in constant fear of assault.”

"Queens stands with Ashish Sapkota, his family and our entire South Asian community in our shared push to Stop Asian Hate in its tracks," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. "For more than a year, our Asian American friends across the country have been subjected to a torrent of racist rhetoric and violence, culminating in last week's terror attack in Atlanta. But if we all work together as One Queens to keep our families safe and our communities welcoming, I know we can stop this pandemic of prejudice in its tracks."

“We at the Borough President's Office denounce the vicious vile attack on Mr. Ashish Sapkota. Mr. Ashish Sapkota is a hard-working Nepalese American for-hire driver. He is an essential worker providing vital services for the community by keeping the city moving. This is also a personal issue for me, as I have family members who are for-hire drivers in the community. We are seeing attacks on Asian Americans throughout the country and I stand with victims of these attacks,” said Deputy Borough President Rhonda Binda.

Council Member Peter Koo stated, "I join with my colleagues and Mr. Sapkota to condemn this heinous attack on yet another member of our community. New York is a city of immigrants where everyone of every race, color, and creed should feel welcome and unafraid to do their job. We come together today to support Mr. Sapkota and to make it clear to anyone who would do harm to our community, that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us."

"Disgusted by the heinous attack on Lyft driver Ashish Sapkota. No driver should fear for their safety at the hands of their passengers, and as a Nepali immigrant in a time of rising hate crimes against people of Asian descent, Mr. Sapkota finds himself at even greater risk. This incident must be investigated promptly, and the perpetrators brought to justice", said Senator John Liu.

Mr. Somnath Ghimire, President of GPK Foundation America, said, “We want justice for Ashish. Stop Asian hate. We want the protection of the law for TLC drivers. New York State and New York City must pass a strict protection bill for TLC drivers. Justice for Ashish must prevail. Ashish is in depression due to this incident and very afraid to work as a TLC driver now. He says that luckily, his life was saved.”