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New York City Commission On Human Rights Asks New Yorkers To Step Up If They Witness Anti-Asian Attacks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York City Commission on Human Rights is asking New Yorkers to step up if they witness an anti-Asian attack.

As CBS2's Christina Fan reported, it follows this week's horrible assault on a 65-year-old woman who was heading to church in Manhattan.

Distraught New Yorkers hung posters of Asian Americans' faces across Hell's Kitchen on Friday, steps away from one of the city's latest hate-fueled assaults.

They are not only upset with the brutal beating of Vilma Kari, but equally hurt by the apathy from witnesses who watched on.

"The doors were closed on her, even as she lay there hurt. That is not the city that we know," said Lara Gregory from Filipino Americans for Racial Action.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights urged bystanders to become upstanders.

Volunteers walked along Ninth Avenue on Friday, passing out fliers and asking businesses to speak up if they witness hate. They say silence begets violence.

"I think in times like this, it is very important that there are public, visible reminders that people will not tolerate racism," said Carmelyn Malalis, from the Commission on Human Rights.

According to the city agency, reports of discrimination, bias and harassment against Asian Americans increased seven-fold in the last year. There were 205 incidents in 2020, compared to 30 the year before.

"Hate persists when good people stand by and do nothing," said Elizabeth OuYang from OCA New York.

Community leaders say even if you can't intervene, you can distract, delegate, document, delay or direct.

Many of the businesses that now display signs of solidarity promised to stand up.

"It has to be a community effort. We have to show that this kind of situation is uncalled for," said Felix Atlasman of American Home Hardware and More.

The Commission on Human Rights enforces the anti-discrimination and harassment protections in the city, but says the laws are limited if people don't stand behind them.

CBS2's Christina Fan contributed to this report.

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