Local leaders, advocates and supporters gathered at Yonkers City Hall on Tuesday to condemn the recent attack against an elderly Filipino woman and to call for New York’s Legislature to approve a $64.5 million addition to the state budget in support of Asian Americans.
The recent act of anti-Asian violence occurred in Yonkers, New York, on Friday. It was caught on surveillance camera and saw 42-year-old Tammel Esco punch the unidentified 67-year-old victim more than 125 times in the head and face, stomp on her seven times and spit on her.
Esco, who called the victim an “Asian b*tch,” was brought into custody at the scene of the crime and later charged with assault and attempted murder as hate crimes.
The victim — who suffered brain bleeding, facial fractures and lacerations to the head and face — was sent to the hospital and is now recovering.
“It is viciousness and depravity. We are all here to express our outrage and heartbreak against this senseless act of violence,” said Lisa Hofflich, founder and chair of the Westchester Asian American Democrats.
Hofflich was joined on the steps of City Hall by Marjorie Hsu, chair of the Asian American Federation; David Imamura, co-chair of the Westchester County Asian American Advisory Board; Elmer Cato, consul general of the Philippines in New York; Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano; and Congressman Jamal Bowman, among others.
“We don’t feel safe,” Cato said. “We think more effort should be exerted to make not just Filipinos but Asian Americans feel safe, feel safe here in New York.”
The group collectively called for the New York Legislature to approve the addition of $64.5 million to the state budget to improve services for Asian Americans and combat hate against the community through education.
Of the proposed amount, $5 million will be allotted to targeted COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and vaccine equity work; $5 million for data projects, particularly those that disaggregate AAPI data; $6 million for K-12 AAPI curricular materials; $1 million for the creation of an AAPI Educational Attainment Workgroup; $1 million for the creation of the first AAPI New York State Commission; and $46.5 million for community-based organizations that offer culturally relevant and language-accessible programs for local AAPIs.
Esco is a repeat offender with 14 prior arrests, according to police records. He was also reported to have substance abuse and mental health issues.
“Many of the people who perpetrate these assaults are mentally ill, right? So we need to ensure there is proper care for those individuals, and ensure they are not on the street, going out and hurting people,” Imamura said.
Esco is currently being held at the Westchester County Jail without bail. “Current guidelines presume incarceration for [people] with prior violent felony convictions,” said the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, which decided not to imprison Esco after he pushed a woman through a window in February 2021.