One February afternoon, a 50-year-old Asian woman was standing in line at a bakery in Queens, New York when a man threw a box of spoons at her and then pushed her so hard it took her 10 stitches in the head. In surveillance footage, a crowd watches the man attacking the woman, doing nothing when he hits her, then walks away.
“When I saw that, I thought, ‘This could be my mother. It could be my grandmother. It could be someone I knew, ”says Teresa Ting, a resident of Flushing, the neighborhood in which the attack took place. “He struck near our house.”
The assault in Queens was part of a series of attacks on vulnerable or elderly Asian Americans that have been captured in viral videos in recent months. The mass shooting in March of eight people in Atlanta, including six Asian Americans, was a breaking point.
In shock, Ting turned to Instagram Stories, the app’s ephemeral collections of videos or photos. She suggested that a group of neighborhood activists meet on Flushing Main Street in groups of four to monitor unrest or violence. Within days, she had assembled a group of 100 volunteers trained in Peaceful Spectator Intervention, who come up with strategies to defuse violent situations, to patrol Main Street as a group for three hours every Saturday and Sunday, and to keep watch. possible hate crimes.
“I started with an Instagram story and shared my frustration with how I wanted to provide an extra pair of eyes and ears, and here we are,” Ting says.