After she endured a brutal attack in front of a luxury apartment building in Times Square in New York City, which drew widespread outrage after video of the assault went viral, Vilma Kari, the Filipino American victim, and her daughter, Elizabeth, are making their story heard.
Vilma Kari, 65, who was knocked to the ground and repeatedly stomped on as she was on the way to church in March, agreed to speak to NBC Asian America via email and Elizabeth Kari spoke over the phone in hope of drawing attention to the racism Asian Americans have withstood during the pandemic. Vilma, who was diagnosed with a fractured pelvis and said she is "still processing the full spectrum of what has happened," called for greater attention to violence against people of Asian descent.
"I feel that there is now more awareness and consciousness that has developed after my attack," she wrote. "But there needs to be more support and education about what the AAPI community is facing at this moment, especially since there are cases that have not been reported and classified as hate crimes."
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Her attacker is alleged to have yelled, "F--- you, you don't belong here, you Asian," before attacking Vilma, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office. A suspect, Brandon Elliot, was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree assault as a hate crime and one count of first-degree attempted assault as a hate crime.
Elizabeth said Vilma, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in the 1980s, has been cautious about giving interviews and has largely shied away from media attention in part because of shame, a pervasive concept in the Asian American community.