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Amid Spike In Anti-Asian Incidents, Expert Advice On How To Handle The Situation, Even As A Witness

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - An unprovoked racist altercation was caught on camera.

A woman tells an Asian American woman to go back to China.

So what is the correct response when confronted with this kind of hate?

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reports, the altercation between an Asian American couple from a Manhattan and a woman in a cab began before Danny Lee even took out his cell phone.

Maria Ha says it started with a nasty stare - way too close for comfort.

She pretty much got into my face. It was nose to nose, and she says 'You're not from here, you're from China . Go back to China!" Ha said. "So I screaming, 'Danny, Danny! Get that lady! She said racial slurs at me!'"

"Your defense alarms go off and you're like 'Oh man, this is unacceptable,'" Lee said.

So the upset husband hit record.

"Did you just say 'Go back to China?'" Lee said.

"You're assaulting me! You're assaulting me!" the woman said.

"I'm not touching you," Lee can be heard saying in the video.

They say the anti-Asian insults continued as they walked away near 22nd Street and First Avenue.

On the video, you can hear the woman offer to pay double if the driver takes off before giving the Korean couple the finger. It was all so shocking and unprovoked, Lee admits he acted with anger. Ha says she froze.

"When you're in the middle of that heated exchange, and you're the victim, what's the best way to handle that situation?" Layton asked.

"I do not not recommend engaging an assailant," said former NYPD Lieutenant Dr. Darrin Porcher. "We want to exit it as quickly and safely as possible — and that means walking away."

Porcher says, as hard as it may be, stay calm and do not engage. Get a picture of the offender if you safely can and show it to police when you file a report. Never turn to violence.

If you're a witness, don't get physically involved, Porcher says. Try to get a picture and call for help.

The group Stop Asian American and Pacific Islanders Hate, formed at the start of the pandemic, it has gotten 3,795 reports of hate incidents since last March, including more than 500 in 2021.

It's all the more reason Lee and Ha say they can't brush off this encounter, like they may have in the past.

"Just want to put an end to this. We're both very tired of this," Lee said. "No matter if it's a small incident or big incident - you can't - it's not OK."

A message to her, and anyone, with hate in their heart.

Jessica Layton contributed to this report. 

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