A vicious attack on an Asian-American woman as she walked to church near New York City’s Times Square is drawing widespread condemnation and raising alarms about the failure of bystanders to intervene amid a rash of anti-Asian violence across the U.S.
A lone assailant was seen on surveillance video late Monday morning, kicking the 65-year-old woman in the stomach, knocking her to the ground and stomping on her face, all as police say he shouted anti-Asian slurs and told her, “you don’t belong here.”
The attack happened outside an apartment building two blocks from Times Square, a bustling, heavily policed section of midtown Manhattan known as the “Crossroads of the World.”
Two workers inside the building who appeared to be security guards were seen on the surveillance video witnessing the attack, but failing to come to the woman’s aid. Their union said they called for help immediately. The attacker was able to casually walk away while onlookers watched, the video showed.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the video of the attack “absolutely disgusting and outrageous” and said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that witnesses did not intervene.
“I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you do, you’ve got to help your fellow New Yorker,” Mr. de Blasio said Tuesday at his daily news briefing.
“If you see someone being attacked, do whatever you can,” he said. “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.”
Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, said the victim “could easily have been my mother.” He too criticized the bystanders, saying their inaction was “exactly the opposite of what we need here in New York City.”
The attack comes amid a national spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S., and happened just weeks after a mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent. The surge in violence has been linked in part to misplaced blame for the coronavirus and former president Donald Trump’s use of racially charged terms like “Chinese virus.”
This year in New York City there have been 33 hate crimes with an Asian victim as of Sunday, police said. There were 11 such attacks by the same time last year.
On Friday, in the same neighbourhood as Monday’s attack, a 65-year-old Asian American woman was accosted by a man waving an unknown object and shouting anti-Asian insults. A 48-year-old man was arrested the next day and charged with menacing. He is not suspected in Monday’s attack.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the attack near Times Square “horrifying and repugnant” and he ordered the state police’s Hate Crimes Task Force to offer its assistance to the NYPD.
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force, which is investigating the attack, released surveillance video of the attack and photographs of the suspect Monday evening and asked anyone with information to contact the department’s confidential hotline or submit tips online.
The woman attacked Monday was hospitalized with serious injuries. She was in stable condition on Tuesday, a hospital spokesperson said.