Tuesday, June 22, 2021

in-focus

Asian American woman, 65, beaten in racist attack, NYPD says. Bystanders didn't help, video suggests.


An Asian American woman was walking through the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan on Monday morning when a stranger approached.

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The 65-year-old woman stopped abruptly outside a luxury condo tower, surveillance video shows. Suddenly, the man kicked her in the stomach, knocking her to the sidewalk, and then brutally stomped on her head again and again. All the while, police said, he spewed slurs at her.

As the woman was viciously attacked, video appears to show at least three people in the condo's lobby passively watching the violence. When the attacker walks away, leaving the injured woman prone on the sidewalk, one man - reportedly a security guard - calmly shut the door on her.

The video has led to new calls for an end to the rising tide of violence against Asian Americans and raised questions about the bystanders' conduct.

"The cold hearted building security guard not only failed to render aid, he closed the door on the victim," the New York Police Department's Asian Hate Crimes Task Force wrote in a since-deleted tweet about the video, WABC reported.

Early on Tuesday, the company that manages the condo tower announced that the staffers involved in the incident have been suspended.

"The staff who witnessed the attack have been suspended pending an investigation in conjunction with their union," the Brodsky Organization wrote in an Instagram post, which also noted the company is trying to identify a "third-party vendor" who was also on the scene "so that appropriate action can be taken."

The case was one of two attacks on Asian Americans in New York caught on video and publicized on Monday, on the same day that city leaders gathered in Brooklyn to urge quick action to halt a rising tide of racist violence and threats.

"This is absolutely vile. These attacks against Asian-American New Yorkers must end," New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, D, said on Twitter, linking to a video of the attack on the woman. "Hate has no place here and we must always call it out when we see it."

In recent weeks, Asian Americans in New York have reported being punched in subway cars, spit on and pummeled with metal pipes - an ugly echo of a national trend that activists say gained traction as former president Donald Trump has used racist terms to tie the coronavirus pandemic to China.

The first attack shared by the NYPD on Monday took place onboard a Manhattan-bound subway car in Brooklyn. Police have not said when the attack took place, but a video of the incident shows an Asian man wearing a backpack being shoved by another passenger, who then starts punching him in the face repeatedly. Eventually, the passenger locks the man in a chokehold, tightly gripping his neck until he passes out on the floor of the train.

"The NYPD is aware of this video and is investigating," the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force said on Twitter on Monday morning.

The attack in Hell's Kitchen happened just before noon on Monday, police said, as the unidentified victim was walking along West 43rd Street. The woman was headed to church, WABC reported, when the attacker yelled, "F--- you, you don't belong here," and began assaulting her.

Video shows one man in the building's lobby watching the entirety of the attack. That man, who appeared to be tying a stack of boxes onto a cart, stared out the glass doors as the woman was repeatedly kicked in the head, but made no move to assist her. Two other men, who were security guards according WABC, then walked toward the entrance as the assailant left, and closed the door on the victim.

The woman "sustained a serious physical injury," the NYPD said, and was taken to NYU Langone Hospital, where she was in stable condition. The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the case.

City officials, activists and celebrities decried the video and urged a swift arrest for the attacker.

"This is absolutely disgusting. Asian Americans belong in New York and are an integral part of our city," tweeted Scott Stringer, New York City's comptroller and a candidate for mayor. "We have to continue to speak out, we have to continue to protect our AAPI neighbors, and we have to act immediately to #StopAsianHate."

Others questioned the apparent lack of action from the bystanders in the lobby.

"This is despicable. The attack and the guard's inaction and closing the door on the victim," tweeted actress Gemma Chan.

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who was among the officials calling for an end to anti-Asian hate crimes at the meeting in Brooklyn earlier on Monday, said the video reinforced a profound lack of empathy for Asian Americans.

"We've gone from being invisible to being seen as sub-human," Meng tweeted. "We just want to be seen as American like everyone else."

Published : March 31, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Tim Elfrink ·