23.01.2022

Man charged with hate crime after being arrested in NYC attack on 65-year-old Asian-American woman

Police in New York have arrested the suspect in a violent attack on a 65-year-old Filipino woman in Times Square earlier this week that caused uproar after the footage was released by the authorities.

New York City police identified the suspect as Brandon Elliot, 38, after arresting him in the early hours of Wednesday morning for the attack that occurred on Monday.

The authorities confirmed that Mr Elliot has been charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and one count each of attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault.

Mr Elliot was out on parole at the time of the incident, after being sentenced to prison in 2002 for killing his own mother, authorities confirmed to the New York Post.

The arrest came after New York City police released video footage on social media of the attack, showing the woman being knocked to the ground by the man as at least three bystanders appeared to watch on without intervening.

Although her name has not been released by the authorities, the victim has been identified as Vilma Kari by The New York Times.

Ms Kari’s daughter told the Times that her mother has been living in the US for decades, but added that the family were too overwhelmed to talk in further detail about the incident.

The Asian-American woman was headed to church at around 11:40am on Monday when she was knocked down and kicked multiple times, the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force said in a statement accompanying the video footage released on Tuesday.

The footage showed the man then stomp repeatedly on the woman’s head, as the police said he made several anti-Asian statements, including telling Ms Kari, “you don’t belong here”.

A few passing cars and at least three staff members at a tower block owned by the Brodsky Organization appeared to witness the violent scenes without making any move to help the woman.

The members of staff have since been suspended, as the Brodsky Organization condemned “violence, racism, xenophobia”.

Ms Kari was released from hospital on Tuesday after being treated for serious injuries, according to the Associated Press.

The video was widely condemned by politicians, including New York governor Andrew Cuomo and the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio, and came amid a rise in violence against Asian-Americans in the US over the last 12 months.

Since March 2020, nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, which is a California-based reporting centre for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with 68 per cent of the incidents recorded against Asian women.

The United Nations also expects to have recorded a significant rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the US over the past 12 months, with the anti-China rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and other Republicans in relation to the coronavirus pandemic being blamed by many experts.

Monday’s incident occurred just two weeks after a gunman went on a shooting rampage in Atlanta, Georgia, that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent.

The tragic incident ignited calls for action on Asian-American discrimination and sparked an outpouring of grief, as the hashtag #StopAsianHate was a top trending topic on Twitter hours after the shootings.

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