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Scuffle in District 40: Ron Kim and Yi Andy Chen Volunteers Call Police on Each Other

Tensions rise between politicians Ron Kim and Yi Andy Chen as the race for Queens Assembly District 40 heats up.

April Xu

Jun 25, 2024

New York Assembly District 40 Candidate Yi Andy Chen (left) and incumbent Ron Kim. Photos: from Yi Andy Chen’s campaign’s website and Assemblymember Ron Kim’s website.

On Sunday, just two days before the primary election, an unusual incident unfolded during an otherwise quiet early voting day in Queens. 

The teams of incumbent Assemblymember Ron Kim and candidate Yi Andy Chen who are competing for New York State Assembly District 40 nearly simultaneously called the police to report violations against each other’s teams. Around 5 p.m., as the polling site at The Boys’ Club of New York in Flushing was about to close, two police cars and over a dozen volunteers gathered outside.

The reelection campaign team of the incumbent, Ron Kim, claimed that challenger Yi Andy Chen’s father assaulted one of their teenage volunteers, while Yi Chen’s campaign team stated that Ron Kim’s teenage volunteer had harassed one of their volunteers. This dispute once again brought attention to the heated race for New York State Assembly District 40, which includes Flushing, in Queens.

According to the NYPD, in one report, a 58-year-old woman reported being “harassed” by a teenager around 17-years-old. The victim stated that the teenager repeatedly snatched flyers from a stand she was managing, and then ran off. No injuries were reported, and no arrests were made, according to the NYPD.

In the other report, a male 16-year-old stated that while recording an earlier incident, he was pushed from the front, causing “annoyance and alarm” The NYPD reported no injuries in this incident and did not make any arrests. The report did not describe the characteristics of the perpetrator or the reason for the assault.

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In a statement released on Monday, Ron Kim’s campaign team reported that one of their volunteers was assaulted on Sunday at an early voting site by Chen’s father, who allegedly fled the scene before the police arrived. Kim said the attack was captured by the body camera of an NYPD officer at the scene, along with seven witnesses. “I’m appalled by and vehemently condemn this despicable assault on a member of our community,” Kim stated. He also called on Chen to apologize to the community and collaborate with the authorities in their investigation.

Later on Monday, in response to Kim’s allegations, Chen condemned Kim’s team for “distorting facts, misleading, and condoning children’s mistakes,” in a statement sent to Chinese-language media. Chen claimed that a 16-year-old volunteer from Kim’s campaign team grabbed flyers from Chen’s campaign volunteers three times at an early voting site on Sunday. Upon intervention by the police at Chen’s team’s request, the volunteer returned the flyers and apologized. Chen said in the statement that the situation “escalated after Kim’s arrival” and Kim alleged that his volunteer had been harassed and assaulted by Chen’s team. 

Also Read: After an Asian Teen is Beaten on Camera, Brooklyn Chinese Community Mobilizes Against Bullying

Jiyoon Lim, Ron Kim’s co-campaign manager, confirmed with Documented that the teenagers who were involved in the two cases were different people, although both are student volunteers of Ron Kim’s campaign. She clarified that the 16-year-old teenager was pushed while recording the police handling the complaint regarding the 17-year-old teenager who took flyers from Chen’s campaign. Lim further explained that the 17-year-old returned the flyers to Chen’s campaign and apologized because he was worried about police involvement and wanted to retrieve his ID.

As of the publication of this article, Chen’s campaign has not responded to Documented’s inquiries via calls and email and did not address Kim’s allegation against Chen’s father in their statement.

By the end of Monday, heated discussions and arguments about the candidates intensified on social media, particularly on WeChat, a popular platform among many Chinese immigrants, as news continued to unfold.

This isn’t the first time a candidate running for the assembly seat covering Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, and Murray Hill, areas with a large number of Asian-American voters, has captured news attention. Recent articles in The New York Times exposed issues of fake donations and forged signatures in the campaign fundraising of candidate Dao Yin.

“We are tired of the dramas in Flushing. As voters, our demand is for a thriving, peaceful, and harmonious community,” said Yiping Wu, a longstanding Chinese community activist.

Reflecting on members in a WeChat chat group defending their candidates and attacking each other, he underscored the ongoing threat of hate crimes against the Asian community, saying, “If we sow seeds of hatred within our community, this cycle will never end. Upon coming to America, we embrace civic education, seeing elections as a sacred lesson, not a stage for partisan strife and mutual attacks,” Wu added.

April Xu

April Xu is an award-winning bilingual journalist with over 9 years of experience covering the Chinese community in New York City.

@KEXU3

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