On Monday, New Yorkers were stunned to see a brutal anti-Asian hate crime captured on a security camera in front of a residential building at 360 West 43rd Street near Times Square. Outrage was compounded by video footage of the building service workers inside, who witnessed the unprovoked attack of a 65-year-old woman and instead of intervening, appeared to close the lobby door on the victim.
As reported by many outlets, including Real Estate Weekly, the building’s owner, The Brodsky Organization, has suspended the building employees involved. In a statement posted on the company’s Instagram account, the company said, “The Brodsky Organization condemns all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia and violence against the Asian American community. The staff who witnessed the attack have been suspended pending an investigation in conjunction with their union.”
For its part, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ urged the public “to avoid a rush to judgement while the facts are determined.” In his statement, union president Kyle Bragg condemned the attack and the rise of similar anti-Asian crimes across the city and the country, and claimed that the doormen at 360 West 43rd “called for help immediately.”
Bragg’s full statement reads:
“We unequivocally condemn all acts of hate against the AAPI community. The attack at 360 West 43rd Street is appalling and is yet another example of the unbridled hate and terror against our AAPI neighbors. We are disgusted and outraged by the attack and stand with our AAPI members who have increasingly faced this kind of hatred in their daily lives. The incident on West 43rd St. is under investigation, including the role of the door staff. The information we have at the moment is that the door staff, members of SEIU 32BJ, called for help immediately. The staff in question has been suspended pending further investigation. Our union is working to get further details for a more complete account, and urge the public to avoid a rush to judgment while the facts are determined. We stand with our AAPI members and their families and communities. For four years, anti-AAPI hatred was stoked at the highest levels of government and has sparked sickening hate crimes in Atlanta, NYC and nearly every city in America. We must root out this hatred in all its forms before more senseless attacks occur. The perpetrators of these crimes, including the attack last night, must be held fully accountable under all federal and state civil rights and hate crime laws.”
While the attack and the building workers’ response remain under investigation, recent reports as of Wednesday morning identify the assailant as Brandon Elliot, 38, who was arrested and charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault, and attempted assault.
The victim was identified as Vilma Kari, a 65-year-old woman who emigrated from the Philippines, her daughter told The New York Times; Kari was discharged from the hospital Tuesday after being treated for serious injuries.
REW cites a study recently released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, that shows an 833% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York between 2019 (three incidents) and 2020 (28 incidents). The study notes that the spike coincided with a rise in COVID-19 cases and ongoing negative - and unfounded - association of Asian Americans with the virus.