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Asian NYPD officer speaks out after man harasses him with racial slurs

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MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) — An Asian American NYPD officer is speaking out after an endless barrage of racism was hurled at him, and it was captured on camera.

The onslaught of hate is enough to make anyone cringe.

Within two minutes, the racial slur can be heard echoing through Washington Square Park at least 22 times.

“I feel like he was just angry at the uniform, at police officers, and he decided to add some racial slurs to it,” NYPD Officer Philip Huynh said. “It’s degrading. It’s upsetting. No one wants to be called something like that.”

In this exclusive interview with Eyewitness News, police officer Philip Huynh, the recipient of that hate, says it happened Saturday night as police were enforcing a curfew.

Not the first time he’s been the target of racism as a cop or in life.

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“It’s not new. Even in school growing up other kids could be bullies; they say racial slurs like that,” Huynh said. “I believe he was trying to provoke a reaction from me.”

The video was posted on YouTube and retweeted by the PBA.

Police are looking at the video as part of its investigation.

After Eyewitness News reached out to the man seen spewing racial slurs, Shermaine Laster wasn’t shy about his behavior.

He tells Eyewitness News that he doesn’t have a problem with the Asian community, that he has a problem with police officers abusing authority.

He then sent his own video, showing even more racism and racial slurs being spewed.

“You ain’t even from this country. You piece of (expletive),” Laster said in the video.

In one of the videos, a bicyclist passing by can be seen and heard calling the suspect out and telling him not to use the racial slurs directed at the officer.

“Stop calling him a (expletive) — man that’s (expletive) up,” the bicyclist said. “You’re racist. You’re a racist piece of (expletive).”

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“Ignorance comes from any background. It’s up to him to be educated about that,” Huynh said.

Laster can also be heard saying he is a state employee. He’s a cleaner for SUNY Downstate.

In a statement, a spokesperson for his employer says “SUNY Downstate is committed to fostering an environment embracing global diversity. We have zero tolerance for hatred, bigotry, or racism in any form. Our institution in no way condones the actions or words of this individual actor.”

“He has to be held accountable for what he said,” Huynh said. “I’m just surprised how he felt emboldened to say all that, especially he knows he’s on multiple cameras in public, he has an audience and he wasn’t afraid to say that. If he’s willing to do this to a police officer he’d probably do it to you know, a regular civilian.”

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