Lobby staff fired after attack on Asian American woman outside apartment building in New York City

NYPDBy Morgan Winsor, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Two lobby staff members who were on duty when a 65-year-old Asian American woman was attacked outside a New York City apartment building in broad daylight last week have been fired.

The Brodsky Organization, which owns the building, had initially suspended the pair pending an investigation in conjunction with their union.

“The Brodsky Organization completed an inquiry into the response of the two doormen who were present inside the building at the time of this incident,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “While the full lobby video shows that once the assailant had departed, the doormen emerged to assist the victim and flag down an NYPD vehicle, it is clear that required emergency and safety protocols were not followed. For this reason, their employment has been terminated, effective immediately.”

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 32BJ, which represents the two employees, said it “did not play any role whatsoever” in the Brodsky Organization’s decision to fire “both the doorman and concierge on duty during the heinous attack.”

“Under their collective bargaining agreement, both employees have the right to file grievances,” Kyle Bragg, president of SEIU Local 32BJ, said in a statement Tuesday. “There is a contractual process to challenge terminations. The employees have initiated that process, but the process is just beginning and can take weeks or months.”

“32BJ is a union comprised of majority immigrant, Black and brown workers,” Bragg added. “We take anti-Asian hatred, and all forms of discrimination, seriously. 32BJ members are immigrants and people of color themselves, subject to much of the same racism and violence that our AAPI neighbors face. We believe we must root out systemic racism in all its forms. 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.”

The attack occurred on March 29 at around 11:40 a.m. local time in front of the building in Midtown Manhattan. The New York City Police Department released surveillance footage that showed a man approaching the woman on the sidewalk and kicking her in the stomach, knocking her to the ground. The man then kicks the woman in the face multiple times while making “anti-Asian statements toward her” before casually walking away, police said.

The video also shows people inside of the building lobby who appear to stop what they are doing to watch the incident unfold. One of them then shuts the door as the suspect walks away and the woman is left on the ground.

The woman suffered “serious physical injury” and was hospitalized in stable condition, according to police.

The Brodsky Organization said it has been working with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community “to reach her family, as well as to determine how best to support the fight against anti-Asian hate crimes.”

“We are extremely distraught and shocked by this incident, and our hearts go out to the victim,” the company said in its statement Tuesday. “Our company is also committed to implementing a comprehensive retraining of building services staff companywide regarding proper emergency response protocols as well as anti-bias awareness and upstander-bystander interventions.”

Police said the suspect, identified as 38-year-old Brandon Elliot, lives in a nearby hotel that serves as a homeless shelter and was arrested before dawn on March 31, after investigators spent hours watching the area. He faces several charges, including assault as a hate crime and attempted assault as a hate crime, according to police.

Elliot served 17 years in New York state prison after he was convicted of fatally stabbing his mother in 2002. He was released on lifetime parole in 2019, police said.

Last week’s attack was the latest in a spate of violence targeting Asian Americans in New York City and across the nation. The coronavirus pandemic and its suspected origins in the Chinese city of Wuhan is cited as having led to a fresh onslaught of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States that has waged on for over year.

From March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, there were more than 3,795 hate incidents, including verbal harassment and physical assault, against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States that were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks such incidents.

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