The attack intensified calls for an end to anti-Asian hate crimes in the city and raised harsh criticism for three bystanders caught on video inside a luxury condo building’s lobby who witnessed the attack but 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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said, calling the bystanders’ actions “absolutely unacceptable.”
The company that manages the condo tower announced Tuesday 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 that were caught on video and publicized 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.
Monday’s attack happened just before noon in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, 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.
The man kicked her in the stomach, knocking her to the sidewalk, and then brutally stomped on her head again and again.
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 to 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.
After asking the public for help in identifying the assailant, the NYPD Hate Crime Task force announced Elliot’s arrest early Wednesday. He was convicted in 2002 of a vicious attack on his mother, Bridget Johnson, 42, according to a New York Daily News account at the time. Police said Elliot, then 19, had stabbed her three times in the heart with a kitchen knife, killing her.
It’s not clear when he was paroled from prison in that case.
The other attack on Monday remains unsolved. Video of the incident onboard a subway train 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.
City officials, activists and celebrities this week decried the videos.
“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 in the attack on the 65-year-old woman.
“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.”