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tv   Nightline  ABC  July 1, 2021 12:37am-1:06am PDT

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tonight, a vicious hate crime and a seeming indifference of bystanders triggering nationwide outrage. >> there's so many victims that have not been heard. >> now in her first on-camera interview, vilma kari, a proud asian-american's story of survival. her daughter turning her family's trauma into triumph. how love conquers hate. >> my attacker, i prayed for him. >> why pray for your attacker? >> because love is the most powerful thing in the world. tred and the bias. >> we're with the nypd's hat ta force, battling bigotry.
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this special edition of "nightline," "am i next: anti-asian hate" will be right back. its highly active peroxide droplets swipe on in seconds. better. faster. 100% whiter teeth. it's dry. there's no dry time. makes us wonder why we booked fifteen second ad slots. right now, she's not thinking about her work or her schedule. there's no dry time. hi baby. -hey ma, how are you doing? i'm doing good, how are you? good. we are just on our way back from the beach. she's not thinking about her next appearance or even her book tour. no, she's thinking about something more important. and thankfully so is her automobile. the safest, most technologically advanced car we have ever introduced. cares for what matters.
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nationwide outrage. her daughter part of a younger generation of asian-americans encouraging their elders to come out of the shadows and speak out to give others the strength to stand up against hate. >> you want to start putting some tape kind of like how we did? >> reporter: elizabeth kari is turning stories of hate into art. >> i want to dedicate and honor my mom and everything she went through. but also to kind of honor everybody who's been a victim and survivor, most importantly, of these types of attacks. >> reporter: these words have kept her up at night. >> f-u, asian, you don't belong here, was the gist of what he had said before the attack. >> reporter: racist slurs hurled at her mom as she was beaten in front of a new york city highrise. "you don't belong here" turned into an art exhibit about why asian-americans very much belong here.
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"aap i belong," a collection of stories designed to flip victimhood into empowerment. >> in 50 years, when i look back on my life, will i have said that i did everything i possibly could? i feel like in this moment, i have. >> reporter: elizabeth's moment emerged from horror, captured on surveillance video in march. >> she was kicked numerous times, she was assaulted pretty, pretty bad. >> stop asian hate! >> reporter: the brutal attack enraging the nation, coming to symbolize anti-asian hate and the callous disregard of the bystanders seemingly emblematic of america's silence. >> dammit, i am so sick of standing here demanding something to be done for my people! >> reporter: this vicious assault just one in an alarming spike in crimes against asian-americans nationwide. >> the crime was caught on camera, shows a man attacking the victims with a cinderblock. >> two elderly asian women were stabbed at the bus stop near fourth and market street. >> brutal attack on an asian-american woman in new york
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city. >> reporter: in 16 major cities, anti-asian hate reports to police rose more than 160% compared to the same time last year. now the survivor at the center of it all, filipina-american vilma kari, speak out on camera for the first time, determined to use her voice to fight hate. >> there are so many victims that have not been heard. >> reporter: it's monday of easter week. vilma, a devout catholic, is headed to mass when the unthinkable happens. >> i saw a text from my mom that said, call me, i've been atacked. and i was like, what? she had told me, i'm in a police car, i'm asking them to take me to the hospital, i hit my head, i don't know exactly what happened. >> what was your reaction when you first laid eyes on her? >> it was hard. i had never seen my mom in a hospital bed. she said, i don't know, i remember getting hit, but honestly, i don't remember feeling the force of it.
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>> reporter: at the hospital, the 32-year-old fashion executive learned her mom had a fractured pelvis and was suffering from head wounds. >> how did she look to you? >> there were visible injuries. a lot of my time at the hospital was holding an ice pack on her head for hours. >> reporter: almost immediately, elizabeth felt something was off. >> i thought somebody had tried to steal her purse. in all honesty, i thought that's what happened. >> you didn't think, anti-asian attack? >> never. i would have never thought that at all. >> reporter: it wasn't until a friend sent her the video, spreading on social media that she put two and two together. >> first i watched the video and i saw how brutal it was. and then i think i watched it two or three times after, in tears, and started sobbing and shaking and coming to this realization, i remember just screaming, that's my mom, but that's my mom. just to watch the force of what had happened to her. i really think that someone was watching out for her from above. >> so many people, when things
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happen in their lives, ask the question, why me? >> yes. and i've been asking some friends, why me? did i do something wrong? what did i do to provoke that? and all they could say to me is, maybe there's a plan for you. because you were spared. and you're a strong woman. and maybe god is telling you, do something. >> reporter: 40 years ago, vilma came to the u.s., like so many immigrants, drawn by the promise of prosperity. >> i worked as a trade analyst, philippine trade office, philippine consulate in chicago. >> i understand that not that long after, you fell in love? >> yes. my husband was interested in philippine furniture. so he called up my office. and i told him to come down.
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and he saw me. the rest is history. >> reporter: vilma stepped away from her career to raise elizabeth. in 2012, her husband passed away. and during the pandemic, vilma came to new york to visit her only child. >> i felt so alone. i figured, let me stay with my daughter. >> reporter: she knew her way around new york and felt safe, up until the moment she was attacked. vilma says one good samaritan made all the difference. >> my mom had said there was one person, said hey, what are you doing? what are you doing over there? i'm so thankful for that because you know, who knows where the story would have gone otherwise? >> reporter: the seeming failure to immediately respond by many of the bystanders, particularly these doormen, sparked outrage. they were eventually fired. their union saying the workers did assist the victim and flagged down police, as was
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shown in a longer version of the building's camera footage. >> i had never feared for myself prior to my mom's attack. now that this has happened to her, i feel it in a different way when i walk down the street. >> reporter: throughout vilma's recovery, thousands wrote words of encouragement and prayers. the family's gofundme page raising nearly $300,000. >> having that kind of sympathy towards me just melted my heart. >> reporter: within days the police arrest a 38-year-old homeless man, out on parole for stabbing his mother to death 18 years ago. he reportedly has a history of mental illness. >> i can only think about the mental health system. it seems like there are some people that need help in this country. and i don't know if they're able to find the resources. and i think that's definitely a big factor of what's happening right now. >> it's extremely hard to prove these cases. you have to know what the
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perpetrator said before or after the attack. >> reporter: nypd inspector tommy ng is in charge of the recently formed asian crimes task force and helped investigate the attack against vilma. >> we send a filipino detective to the house that the first dialogue was talking in native language. and immediately she opens up. >> she and her daughter both said that the attacker said to her, "you f asian, you don't belong here." is that enough to constitute a hate crime? >> that's absolutely enough. >> why? >> absolutely. just because the attack was clearly motivated by her race as an asian-american. >> reporter: in fact, vilma's alleged attacker now faces three hate crime charges. he pled not guilty. what do you think triggered the spike in anti-asian hate during the pandemic? >> i think that certain politicians or elected officials might have said something. >> the china flu.
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kung flu. the plague from china, we have to be accurate. >> that is driving this movement or momentum. >> give me a sense of how racism and mental instability or mental health crises overlap. >> when someone says something about, you know, who to blame about the pandemic or the virus, that it's embedded in the head, that when they have these mental breakdowns for some of these people that they tend to target asian-americans. >> what makes some in the asian community shy about reporting to police? >> the lack of understanding. the lack of trust. the fear of the police, deportations outside of the country. >> it's my first rally. >> reporter: elizabeth is trying to bridge that trust gap. >> our generation of our elderly
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parents are obviously being targeted, and they are not the most open and willing to reach out. >> reporter: she's convincing her mom and others in the aapi community that their voices matter. that they don't need to be invisible. >> i think my generation should listen to the new generation. >> reporter: as they both continue to heal their mother-daughter bond is giving them strength. >> i wonder if you think that fear creeps into your heart in a different way now? >> there is fear. but if we let fear overcome all these things, then nothing will happen. we have to rise above fear. be stronger than fear. you know, be courageous. when we come back, how the aapi community is fighting back. and what vilma has to say about her assailant. >> why pray for your attacker? spray. 'h
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everybody face front, take a knee, quick. >> thank you for coming today. some crime prevention tips today and how to protect yourselves at all timeses. go, go, go, go! >> reporter: after leaving hong kong at age 16, tommy ng grew up in brooklyn. he was robbed twice while still in school. >> my part-time job was delivering food. the first time, i didn't call the police, i just didn't know what to do. i felt helpless that i didn't speak the language. i didn't know the criminal
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justice system, how it works, how to report to the police department. >> how does that impact the way you talk to people who are victims of crime? >> oftentimes they don't feel comfortable talking to strangers or talking to -- speaking in another language. >> instead of feeling helpless, you became a police officer? >> absolutely. >> reporter: now, 25 years later, as head of the nypd asian hate crimes task force, he's teaching others to fight back. >> i want you to bring it back to your family members, teach your children, your elderly. >> reporter: through community engagement like this self-defense class. >> you want to feel confidence. you want to ensure you are empowering them. >> reporter: the task force, created last year, is comprised of 25 officers who speak 11 different languages. >> korea, filipino, china, and they speak many languages and dialects. >> reporter: ng says anti-asian attacks are nothing new. but he's urging victims to seek
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justice. >> if you don't report the incident to the police or local authority, we wouldn't know. and the same perpetrator can commit another crime against someone else or could be your family members next time. >> how do you fight hate as a police officer? >> education. if you start teaching our younger generations about other ethnicities, i think that's extremely, extremely important, starting at a very early age. >> reporter: but in order to learn the scope of the problem, you have to measure it. >> we've received over 6,600 incident reports. these are all self-reported by individuals who have experienced hate. there's no question that this is just the tip of the iceberg. >> reporter: manjmanjmanjmanj group to tally anti-asian hate crimes during the pandemic. >> it's just really unacceptable that our issues are not getting the attention they deserve.
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>> reporter: and there's a long history of hate crimes against the asian-american community, which remains largely invisible. one of the most significant, vincent chin. in the 1980s, as the american auto industry was threatened by japanese imports, chin, a chinese-american in detroit, was violently beaten to death with a baseball bat after his own bachelor party by two men who blamed asian-americans for their lost jobs. >> that shows the way in which our communities are often dehumanized, seen as perpetual foreigners. >> reporter: the attackers were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three years probation. and a $3,000 fine. but they never served a single day in prison. vincent's mom lily spent years demanding justice. >> we see so many times across cultures the mother of emmett till many years prior doing the same, essentially bringing voice to her son's case and showing that it was, in fact, a racist
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incident. similarly, i think vincent chin's mother, working with community groups, making sure that it elicited the attention of federal authorities. >> reporter: eventully the outrage led to federal hate crime charges and one of the men was found guilty. >> this was the first time that hate crime statute and a federal one at that was used against perpetrators who committed crimes against asian-americans. >> reporter: despite chin's landmark case, that conviction was overturned on appeal. which is why vilma's case brings renewed attention to the need for a racial reckoning for asian-americans. what does justice, thair thair , the day, look like for you? >> it's time to change the law. victims of hate crimes should have a voice and should have justice in court. >> reporter: but vilma's also calling for healing, something she prayed for on her 66th birthday. >> i told my daughter, i don't want to do anything except go to
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church. and pray for all the blessings, pray that i'm alive, and i'm okay, and pray for everyone. for everyone, including even my attacker. i prayed for him. >> why pray for your attacker? >> because it's the only thing i could do for him. in the hope that maybe someday, he'll reform. because love is the most powerful thing in the world. >> what's that like, listening to your mom talk about what she's been through? >> it's amazing. i don't know if i could have said the same things myself, even watching her over the last couple of weeks, just the emotional growth of her getting to that point, i actually hadn't heard her say that. so that ws also a little surprising for me as well.
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i took a different path. >> reporter: elizabeth is turning her family's pain into purpose. >> oh, i love this story. >> reporter: using a portion of the funds donated to them to put on this exhibit. it's a collection of stories. a community dedicated, elizabeth says, to the strongest woman she knows, her mother. >> we all belong. and each one of us has to reclaim that word, because we reclaim that word, because we all belong here. now, there's skyrizi. with skyrizi, 3 out of 4 people achieved 90% clearer skin at 4 months, after just 2 doses. skyrizi may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. before treatment, your doctor should check you for infections and tuberculosis. tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms such as fevers, sweats, chills, muscle aches, or coughs, or if you plan to or recently received a vaccine. ♪ nothing is everything ♪
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♪ just last month, president biden celebrating after signing a bipartisan landmark law designed to fight anti-asian hate crimes. together, america united against hate. that's "nightline" for tonight we'll see you back here tomorrow at the same time. thanks for staying up with us. good night, america.
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