Anti-Asian hate crimes continue to rise across the country. In a recent incident, an Asian American woman was attacked in New York City. As the horrific violence occurred with the man repeatedly hitting the victim, two people watched but did not intervene according to surveillance footage released by police. The footage even depicts one bystander who seems to be a security guard closing the door of the building in front of where the woman lies on the ground. The video has since gained widespread attention online.
The victim, a 65-year-old woman, was walking in Midtown Manhattan Monday when a man came up to her and knocked her down to the ground, officials said. He then proceeded to stomp on her face multiple times while shouting anti-Asian statements. The woman, unidentified at this time, was hospitalized with serious injuries.
As of Wednesday police officials arrested the suspect in connection to this incident. Identified as 38-year-old Brandon Elliot, the man now faces charges of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault, and attempted assault.
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Despite attacking the woman in broad daylight in the presence of witnesses, the surveillance footage depicts the man casually walking away. The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident and has asked anyone with information to contact the department. “I don’t know who attacks a 65-year-old woman and leaves her on the street like that," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told TV Station NY1 on Tuesday.
(WARNING: The Twitter thread below contains violent video, photos, and language that may not be suitable for all readers.)
According to The New York Times, the bystanders who witnessed the attack and did not intervene have been suspended by The Brodsky Organization, the building management company that employs them, pending an investigation. "The Brodsky Organization condemns all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia and violence against the Asian American community," the company said in a statement. The company also added that it is working to identify a third-party delivery vendor who was also present during the attack.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bystanders' reluctance to intervene “absolutely unacceptable,” USA Today reported. “I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you do, you’ve got to help your fellow New Yorker,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “If you see someone being attacked, do whatever you can. Make noise. Call out what’s happening. Go and try and help. Immediately call for help. Call 911. This is something where we all have to be part of the solution. We can’t just stand back and watch a heinous act happening.”
In the past, bystander intervention has not only prevented serious injury from occurring but has allowed for suspects to be identified after committing such crimes. The role of bystanders in such incidents is essential.
The incident follows at least five other cases from last week alone in which Asian Americans were attacked in New York City. Data from the New York Police Department found that at least 33 anti-Asian hate crimes have occurred this year. According to a report from Stop AAPI Hate, over 3,795 incidents were reported to the organization from March 19, 2020, to February 28, 2021. The organization noted that number is “only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur.”
Surveys following the shooting in Atlanta—in which eight people, including at least six Asian Americans, were killed—found that at least one in eight Asian American adults has experienced an incident of hate in the last year.
As a result of the increasing number of anti-Asian crimes and rising xenophobic harassment in the U.S. advocacy organizations like the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) have partnered with others to conduct visual workshops on bystander intervention. These free workshops allow for individuals to learn how to take action to protect the AAPI community without comprising safety.
Additionally, the AAJC has also created an extensive list of resources for individuals to stand against racism that has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is absolutely vile. These attacks against Asian-American New Yorkers must end. Hate has no place here and we must always call it out when we see it," New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted.
Hate against the Asian American community is not new to America’s history, but that does not mean the community is not suffering. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian crimes have rapidly increased—the AAPI community needs our support now more than ever. Here is a list of resources and actions you can take to help stop AAPI hate.