A longer video showed the doormen helping the woman after they had initially closed the door on her.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of racial violence that some readers may find distressing
Two doormen working at a building management company have been fired from their jobs after closing the door on a Filipino-American woman, who was lying on the street after being attacked in a hate crime. Vilma Kari, 65, was brutally assaulted in a video lasting 25 seconds, outside a Manhattan building. The suspect Brandon Elliot has been charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and one count of attempted assault as a hate crime, reported New York Times. Elliot reportedly kicked Kari in the torso and head, telling her, “You don’t belong here,” according to the criminal complaint. This is just one of many attacks on the Asian American community over the past month.
The video of the attack was caught on the building's security footage and showed the doormen standing idly as the woman was being attacked. One of the doormen moved to the door, but only to close it on the injured woman lying on the street. The lobby staff at the building were criticized for watching on and refusing to help the woman. The lack of empathy was apparent, resulting in the building management company firing the doormen. The company emailed the residents on Tuesday, confirming the doormen had been fired. The company stated that the doormen had failed to follow the “required emergency and safety protocols.” The statement was attributed to Rick Mason, the executive director of management at the Brodsky Organization, which owns the luxury apartment building.
A longer version of the video, lasting 6 minutes, showed the staff responding to the attack and helping the woman after being alerted to it by a delivery person in the lobby. The video reportedly showed the attacked standing outside the building even after the assault. Mason's email also stated that the doormen had flagged down a police car to help the woman. The email added that the building service staff would be trained on how to respond to emergencies, and would be trained on “anti-bias awareness and upstander-bystander interventions.” The doormen who were fired haven't been identified and the company didn't elaborate on the protocols the staff members had violated.
CARE: My mom told me about racist patients at the hospital who would yell hurtful words at her like “Go back to where you’re from!” Despite their hate, she would care for them. Bathe them, feed them, give them medicine, watch over them as they recovered. 4/11— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) April 3, 2021
Kyle Bragg, the president of 32BJ SEIU, the union that represents the staff members, said the doormen were being unfairly treated. “We believe we must root out systemic racism in all its forms,” read Bragg’s statement. “We believe that all union workers, especially workers of color who are often the subject of unfair treatment on the job, have a right to a fair process as outlined in their contract.”
Elizabeth Kari, Vilma's daughter, said an anonymous stranger had helped stop the attack on her mother as others refused to intervene. "The security video that has gone viral has been the most difficult thing to watch, apart from the crime itself. There were many times that I wish someone would have stepped in," wrote Elizabeth on a GoFundMe page. "However, 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. To this person, I understand your decision in remaining anonymous during this time. I want to THANK YOU for stepping in and doing the right thing," added Elizabeth. The fundraising campaign has raised more than $250,000 which was meant to aid Vilma's recovery. Elizabeth has since added that her mother wanted to use the money to "support other victims and organizations to further raise awareness to our fellow AAPI community".
There has been a sharp rise in the attacks against people of East and Southeast Asian descent since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Donald Trump and the Republican party repeatedly referred to the pandemic as the "Chinese virus" and "Chinese flu," fueling xenophobia and violence. There has been a sharp uptick in attacks against the community since. According to The New York Times, there have been at least 110 episodes of racist attacks on the Asian American community. On March 16, a gunman opened fire at three massage parlors in Atlanta killing eight people, of which six women were of Asian descent.