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Racist 'yelling about COVID' attacks woman in Bloomington

The usually idyllic trails of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge were the site of an ugly incident.

The usually idyllic trails of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge were the site of an ugly incident. Eliza Foli/US Fish and Wildlife Services

On Saturday afternoon, a 24-year-old woman of Asian descent walked a nature trail in the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 

Around 4 p.m., the woman was confronted by a man who made "race based comments" and hit the woman with a tree branch, according to a release from the Bloomington Police Department. The woman managed to get away from her attacker, who left the area, and was soon found by other hikers on the trail.

Susan Maas, one of the first to find the woman after the attack, says the man was "yelling about COVID" as he attacked her. The woman said her assailant also told her "you don't belong here." 

Bloomington police responded to the scene and searched the area, but couldn't find the attacker. The victim was taken to Fairview Southdale Hospital with "non-life threatening injuries to her upper body," according to the release.

The suspect is white, about 6 feet tall and of medium build, and was described as "disheveled in appearance and wearing a tan or dirty T-shirt, shorts, hiking boots, and a black face covering." Anyone with information that could lead to his arrest is encouraged to contact the Bloomington Police Department at 952-563-4900.

Thousands of racist incidents against Asian Americans have been reported this year, and one poll found 30 percent of respondents blame China for COVID-19. In March, an Asian American couple living in Woodbury received a letter telling them to "take the virus back to China." 

In his public remarks, President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as "the China virus," and at one point suggested it was "probably sent in by China."