Anti-asian attacks

How to Be a Better Bystander: Remember These 5 Steps If You Witness an Attack

NBC Universal, Inc.

You've likely seen the recent videos of attacks against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, but what happens if you find yourself witnessing one?

The nonprofit Hollaback is teaming up with the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice to host virtual training sessions on how to be a better bystander.

"By minding your business and not doing anything, you’re saying that this behavior is OK," Jorge Arteaga, deputy director of Hollaback, said. "It’s going unchecked, which then that means someone else in your community is going to experience this."

Here are Hollaback’s 5 D’s on how to intervene:

  • Distract the suspect by raising your voice
  • Delegate duties to people nearby, like telling someone to call 911
  • Document and share evidence with police
  • Delay by checking in with the victim and staying with them until police arrive
  • Direct, meaning if you feel it’s safe, directly intervene

Arteaga said too often people’s first instinct is to whip out their phones and press record.

"Make sure someone is helping this person before you just stand there to record," he said.

A video of an attack in New York is shining a light on the bystander issue. Police say they’ve arrested the man seen allegedly kicking and stomping on a 65-year-old Filipino woman while witnesses looked on from the lobby of a nearby building.

For Jennifer Li of Oakland, the salt on the wound was when one of the witnesses closed the front door to the building.

"It just feels like the American experience for Asian Americans is that when we’re suffering, people see it and they just close the door on us," Li said.

Li is part of two volunteer foot patrol groups, including the grassroots organization Asians with Attitudes.

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