An elderly Filipino American woman who made global headlines after falling victim to a vicious attack in New York City late last month is breaking her silence over the incident.
Vilma Kari, 65, was hospitalized after being punched, kicked and ignored outside an apartment building at 360 West 43rd Street in Midtown Manhattan on March 29.
Her attacker, identified as 38-year-old Brandon Elliot, was accused of making anti-Asian sentiments in the encounter — telling her “F*ck you, you don’t belong here.“
Elliot, who was reported to be on parole for the murder of his own mother, was arrested and charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and attempted assault as a hate crime, among other charges.
NYPD says 65-year-old Asian American woman was walking to church this morning when suspect assaulted her and said “f*** you, you don’t belong here.” Happened in front of 360 W. 43rd St. 11:40am. Sources say building security guard not only failed to render her aid… 1/2 pic.twitter.com/ZLtQEHHJci
— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) March 30, 2021
Nearly a month after the incident, Kari says it’s “surreal” watching herself be attacked on video. But she says she’s recovering with each passing day.
“I am doing well, feeling well, getting better each day,” Kari told WLS.
The 65-year-old settled in Chicago after immigrating from the Philippines many years ago. She was widowed in 2012 and formerly served as a local parishioner.
Security footage at the Brodsky Organization-owned apartment building showed staff ignoring Kari during the attack and closing the door on her. Those employees were reportedly terminated amid the public backlash after the footage went viral on social media.
“I am healing each day and only hope that this incident will continue to bring greater awareness to the racism and hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander community,” she told WLS.
Kari’s daughter, Elizabeth, has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover costs associated with her recovery. Kari wishes to use the rest of the funds to support other victims and organizations working to further raise awareness for the Asian American community, Elizabeth wrote on the page. As of this writing, the campaign has raised over $267,000 of its original $20,000 goal.
“We are happy to let you know that she is recuperating well. Though the recovery is long, we remain hopeful and positive as each day is a step forward,” Liz wrote in an update. “We’ve been conversing with a selected group of non-profit organizations and look forward to updating you all especially with May’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”