Two lobby staff members working at a New York City luxury apartment building were fired this week for failing to take action as an Asian woman was viciously attacked right outside the building last month.
32BJ SEIU, the service workers' union that represents the two employees, announced in a Tuesday press release that both men’s jobs were terminated. Rick Mason, executive director of management at the Brodsky Organization, which owns the Manhattan apartment building, told the New York Times that the pair didn’t follow "required emergency and safety protocols.”
Widely-viewed security footage from the lobby showed a man punching and kicking an older Asian, who was later identified as Vilma Kari, on March 29. The suspect, identified as Brandon Elliot, 38, is seen shoving her to the ground and stomping on her face while telling her she “didn’t belong here," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.
Surveillance footage of the incident appears to show a doorman and a concierge, both of whom have not been named, walking into the frame and closing the building door during the violent incident. Meanwhile, Kari is seen on the ground injured.
32BJ SEIU stated that “the workers did assist the victim and flagged down the police, as was shown in A [sic] longer version of the building’s camera footage.” The union noted that the two workers have the right to file grievances following the decision to fire them.
“There is a contractual process to challenge terminations,” they stated. “The employees have initiated that process, but the process is just beginning and can take weeks or months.”
The pair were previously misidentified as security guards in the media.
Elliot faces two counts of assault as a hate crime, as well as counts of assault, attempted assault and attempted assault as a hate crime. He had been released from jail on parole for killing his mother, Bridget Johnson, 43, in 2002. He had stabbed her in the chest three times with a kitchen knife in their Bronx home. Elliot was unhoused at the time of his most recent arrest.
Kari had a broken pelvis and contusions on her head after the attack, according to a statement provided to Oxygen.com from the New York City Police Department. She has since been released from the hospital.
New York City has seen a rise in the number of hate crimes directed at Asian Americans, with 33 hate crime-related attacks against Asian Americans in 2021 already, compared with 29 attacks in all of 2020.
“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,” the union SEIU wrote in their press release. “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. “
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