Yonkers police slam YouTube for ‘censorship’ of footage showing Asian woman being punched 125 times

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Image: Yonkers Police Department
  • New York’s Yonkers Police Department called out YouTube on Monday for removing its uploaded video of an anti-Asian attack.
  • The video included surveillance footage of an attack against a 67-year-old Asian American woman in Yonkers, which spurred headlines and protests earlier this month.
  • YouTube determined that the video violated its policy on violent and graphic content and indicated that it would permanently remove it.
  • However, the video-sharing giant changed course on Tuesday and reinstated the video with an age restriction.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a statement from YouTube following its move to reinstate the video with an age restriction on Tuesday.

The Yonkers Police Department in New York called out YouTube on Monday after receiving a confirmation that its video of an anti-Asian attack violated the video-sharing platform’s policy against graphic content.

The video was surveillance footage of a recent attack against a 67-year-old Asian American woman in Yonkers this month, which made national headlines and spurred calls for increased state budget to support local Asian American communities.

In the video, a man, later identified as Tammel Esco, is seen punching the victim 125 times, stomping on her seven times and spitting on her before being found and arrested. Prior to the incident, Esco allegedly called the victim an “Asian b*tch.”

The police department’s Twitter post calling out the social media platform indicates that YouTube had denied their appeal to re-post the video after it had been removed. The video, however, appears to still be available on the platform but with an age restriction notice.

“We reviewed your content carefully, and have confirmed that it violates our violent or graphic content policy,” YouTube told the police department in response to their appeal. “We know this is probably disappointing news, but it’s our job to make sure that YouTube is a safe place for all.”

While YouTube stated it would not put the content back up, parts of the original footage have been reposted on Twitter and in online news articles. In response, the Yonkers police department called for an alternative approach to ensuring community safety.

“Dear YouTube, safety isn’t derived from censoring content and information,” the police department tweeted. “It’s the product of a free society that adheres to the rule of law.”

Nearly 3 million Asian Americans have experienced a hate incident since the beginning of 2021, suggests a new survey from AAPI Data. That estimate is significantly larger than the number of documented cases across police departments in major cities, suggesting that underreporting remains an issue.

Under YouTube’s Community Guidelines, channels that violate their policy  receive a warning after the first time, while subsequent violations receive “strikes.” A channel can incur a maximum of three strikes within a 90-day period before it is permanently removed. It’s unclear whether the Yonkers police’s channel has received strikes in the past. 

Twitter users took to the comments of the police department’s post to share their reactions to the removal of the video.

“YouTube, just like Facebook, doesn’t want the FACTS and the TRUTH to be posted nor shared with the public,” one wrote. “That way they can try to keep the world in the dark from what’s really going on in our own backyards.”

Another user commented, “Perp is from the protected class. YouTube can’t allow this video.”

“Kudos to the Yonkers Police Department and shame on Youtube for censoring the truth! They censored the video because it does not fit their narrative,” another weighed in. “We are a free society where laws need to be respected and enforced to protect our citizens.”

Another wrote, “They hate the truth!”

On Tuesday, YouTube, after another “review,” changed course and reinstated the video with an age restriction, saying it did not violate content policy.

“Upon review, we determined this video did not violate our Community Guidelines and have reinstated it with an age-restriction, in accordance with our Graphic Content policy,” YouTube spokesperson Jack Malon told Fox News Digital. “When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been mistakenly removed, we act quickly to reinstate it. We also offer uploaders the ability to appeal removals and we will re-review the content.”

 

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