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Vilma Kari, the 65-year-old Filipino American who was attacked in New York City on March 29, spoke out and said she prayed for her attacker, 38-year-old Brandon Elliot.
Kari’s hope for Elliot: While speaking to Good Morning America on Thursday morning, Kari said she felt that Elliot needed prayers.
- “That’s the only thing I could do for him in the hope that maybe someday he reform[s] or he finds the right medicine, whatever needed,” she said.
- Kari thanked those who showed support and love to her after the attack, saying their words have helped her recover.
- “Physically, I am healing well but mentally, emotionally, I’m not there yet,” she added, explaining that her injuries required her to walk around with a walker.
- Police said that Kari suffered a broken pelvis and head injuries, New York Post reported.
Encouraged to tell her story: Kari said she asked herself several questions right after the attack, such as “Why me? Did I do something wrong? What did I do to provoke that?” according to ABC News.
- “And all [my friends] could say to me is maybe there is a plan for you because you were spared and you’re a strong woman,” Kari said. “Maybe God is telling you to do something.”
- Eventually, Kari’s daughter, Elizabeth, encouraged her to tell her story to help raise awareness of the growing violence plaguing the Asian American community.
- Even though she is still fearful, Kari said she plans to use her experience as a way to push forward change.
- “I feel I just have to accept and be open…even though that fear is in my heart,” she said. “But if we let fear overcome all these things, then nothing will happen. We have to rise above fear and be stronger than that — be stronger than fear.”
What happened: Kari was on her way to her church when she was attacked outside an apartment building in Midtown Manhattan. Security footage, which went viral on social media, showed Elliot punching and kicking her to the ground, while allegedly spewing anti-Asian remarks.
- The video sparked further outrage when the workers from the building were seen ignoring Kari.
- Elliot was arrested on March 31 with two counts of assault as a hate crime and attempted assault as a hate crime. He pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charges.
- Apart from covering the costs of Kari’s recovery, the funds from her GoFundMe, which raised over $270,000, will be donated across seven organizations helping AAPI communities.
Featured Image via Good Morning America