SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco non-profit held a bystander training session online Tuesday. The nationwide surge in harassment and attacks on Asian Americans has raised questions about what bystanders should do if they see an attack happening.
New York City Police posted a video Tuesday where bystanders are seen watching a man kick a 65-year-old Asian woman in the torso and then kicking her three times in the head when she falls to the ground. The men inside a luxury apartment building in Midtown Manhattan watch and one appears to close the front door as the attacker walks away leaving the woman with serious injuries.
Police say the man was making anti-Asian statements.
"This poor woman walking down the street, kicked and brutalized. It was just terrible," said Aarti Kohli, Executive Director of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus.
She and many people nationwide have reacted with shock not just at the attacker, but at the bystanders who watched and didn't appear to help. The woman was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The bystanders were suspended by the building owners and the suspect has still not been arrested.
"I was appalled that the security people in the building basically shut the door and did not check on the welfare of this woman," said Kohli.
"It was gut-wrenching and quite honestly it made me angry," said Jorge Arteaga, Deputy Director of Hollaback, a non-profit which conducts bystander training workshops.Tuesday night, Hollaback partnered with the Asian Law Caucus. They discussed five ways bystanders can help victims of harassment or violence.
"What we saw was a classic bystander effect which is essentially, why should I be the first person to do something if there are other people watching and no one else is doing something," said Hollaback's deputy director Jorge Arteaga.
They call it the five D strategy, asking people to try to do at least one of the actions: Distract the attacker and pull attention away from the target, Delegate tasks to people in the crowd, Document the attack, Delay - or wait to check on the victim, and finally as a last resort, Direct confrontation.
"You don't have to be a superhero to practice bystander intervention," said Arteaga. The non-profits say they've seen a huge increase in people wanting to help.
"We've had, I say 40,000 people register for our trainings in a matter of 4-5 days," said Arteaga."
We all have to take this as a responsibility as a community, as a society," said Kohli, "This is not an Asian-American problem. This is an American problem.