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Anti-Asian hate has led to nationwide protests and relief efforts. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Good samaritans join the fight against AAPI hate

Recent incidents have been thwarted by witnesses in New York City.

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Between its launch on March 19 and August 5, 2020, the online self-reporting tool created by Stop AAPI Hate received 2,583 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents nationwide. Their 20-week report exposed clear trends that have been consistent since the data collection began.  

According to the data received, seven out of 10 incidents involved verbal harassment, including racial slurs, name calling and obscene language. Physical assaults made up 9% of the incidents, and shunning — the deliberate avoidance of AAPIs based on their race — constituted 22% of these incidents. 

In Stop AAPI’s most recent report, the self-reporting tool received a total of 3,795 incidents of hate crimes starting from its launch last year until Feb. 28, 2021. 

Verbal harassment made up 68.1% of all incidents, shunning constituted 20.5%, and physical assault jumped up a little to 11.1%. 

There were also instances of civil rights violations, like workplace discrimination, refusal of service and being barred from transportation (8.5%), and online harassment, which made up 6.8% of the incidents. 

Although physical attacks made up a relatively small percentage of all incidents, many of those reported were truly horrendous, considering many of the victims were Asian-American elders. 

Some of the recently reported attacks include the violent assault and death of the 84-year-old Thai immigrant, Vicha Ratanapakdee, and 83-year-old Vietnamese man, Ngoc Pham, who was attacked while grocery shopping and suffered cuts, bruises and neck fractures.

Many of these xenophobic assaults have been concentrated in California and New York City. 

In California, Asian-American lawmakers have been working to not only track anti-Asian hate crimes, but to condemn the attacks and lay out strategies to keep the community safe.

 

In New York City, the NYPD has taken a major step forward in preventing, disrupting these hate crimes, and sending a clear message that the police force and city will no longer tolerate them. 

Last month, the NYPD established an all-Asian staffed undercover team of police officers to patrol public areas, such as subway stations and grocery stores. Not too long after setting up the patrols, the team already made their first arrest — a woman who was spewing racist verbal harassment at a nail salon in lower Manhattan. 

While increased police presence can be useful, many racial justice advocates argue that more cops doesn’t always equate to more safety. Community issues are typically best resolved with community responses. 

Last month, San Francisco launched an organized community response to combat the hate crimes, consisting of off-duty firefighters, who are dedicated to surveying the streets, watching out for the elderly and vulnerable, and handing out cards with a tip line to help Chinese-speaking residents report incidents of discrimination and violence. 

But outside of organized responses, many advocates are calling for more bystanders to step in and aggressively disrupt and prevent hate crimes in real time. 

This has already been happening in small doses, and will potentially gain momentum as people begin signing up for virtual and in-person bystander training programs

On Monday, April 11, several good Samaritans rescued an Asian-American man from further harm during a recent assault on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. 

On the corner of Lexington Avenue and 72nd Street, the victim, who remains unidentified, was injured during the afternoon. His injuries could have been worse if not for the bystanders who rushed to save him.

In a surveillance video, the suspect is seen following the man around for a few seconds before body slamming him into a glass store window. 

Following the attack, the suspect tried chasing down his fleeing victim, but a group of witnesses stopped him. 

“I’m going to kill somebody! Get out of my face!,” the suspect shouted. He continued to rant and curse as he abandoned the scene. 

Authorities are investigating the attack and have yet to declare it as a hate crime, and the suspect has yet to be captured. 

In a separate attack in New York City, a group of bystanders also saved an Asian-American woman from being shoved onto the subway tracks last week.

On Wednesday, April 7, the 34-year-old victim was waiting for a train while a man approached her, grabbed her arm and attempted to push her onto the tracks, seemingly for no reason. 

Several witnesses jumped into action to protect the woman, putting an end to the attack. The suspect then fled the station in an unknown direction, but actually returned to attack another person for a second time that day, according to the New York Post

Further interventions by more good Samaritans meant the second attack was also unsuccessful.

The 34-year-old woman was shaken, but did not suffer any physical injuries. 

Witnesses said no words were exchanged, but the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident. 

On Monday, March 29, a Filipina mother was out with her daughter, when she was pummeled by a parolee on a Midtown sidewalk.

Her and her daughter, Elizabeth Kari, attribute their safety to a mysterious stranger who distracted the perpetrator, stopping the racist assault.

Kari thanked the anonymous good Samaritan the next day on GoFundMe in support of her mom’s recovery. Her mom, Vilma Kari, 65, suffered a shattered pelvis and other injuries. 

Vilma was stomped on by convicted killer Brandon Elliot as he walked to a church on Ninth Avenue near W. 43rd St. 

Elliot, 38, allegedly screamed “F--- you. You don’t belong here,” during the attack caught on video.

On the GoFundMe page, Kari wrote that the viral recording is hard to watch, not only because of the brutality, but because of the inaction of two nearby doormen. She also made sure to thank the bystander and mention what they did to help. 

“What this video did not capture was that there was someone who was standing across the street that witnessed my mom getting attacked who yelled and screamed to get the assailant’s attention. That is where the video cuts off as the attacker crossed the street to him,” Elizabeth wrote.

Kari’s mysterious savior has yet to make himself known, but she and her daughter hope they will find out his identity.

“His gesture of action is what we need in our world right now,” Elizabeth wrote. “I hope one day my mom and I can thank you personally.”

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