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Taiwanese student reports 'indiscriminate attack' in New York Public Library

Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns violence, racial hatred, discrimination

Alleged assailant (left), interior of library. (D-card images)

Alleged assailant (left), interior of library. (D-card images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese student living in the U.S. uploaded a social media post alleging she was assaulted by a woman in the New York Public Library and racially discriminated against by security guards.

On May 17, the victim visited the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library branch of the New York Public Library, reported UDN. In a post uploaded to the online forum D-card, Polin Huang said that when she stepped out of the fifth-floor bathroom at 7:15 p.m., an African American woman punched her in the face.

The assault caused her to hit her head on the corner of the bathroom wall. She bled profusely, and her friend immediately asked a security guard for help.

Huang said that her friend prevented the assailant from leaving the scene. When Huang asked five security guards for help, she said they only seemed to try to "cover for each other."

According to Huang, the security guards sought to calm down her friend and allowed the woman to leave the building without any attempt to stop her. Huang wrote that she felt she had been "indiscriminately attacked" and had suffered "racial discrimination" from the security guards.

Huang was taken to a hospital for emergency medical treatment. Although her injuries were not serious, she said this type of incident can leave psychological scars that "last a lifetime."

Huang wishes that no other Taiwanese or Asians are treated like this again. She called the Overseas Emergency Assistance phone number of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) to file suit against the New York City Library for endangering public safety or to obtain related compensation.

However, "all I got was a phone call from an immigration lawyer," she said, expressing her disappointment with MOFA and BOCA.

The friend who accompanied Huang posted a video of a confrontation with the suspect after the assault, per UDN. In the video, Huang's friend complains to security guards that Huang is bleeding, and she warns people in an elevator about the assailant, "Be careful guys, she just punched my friend."

The security guard can be heard saying, "If we do something, we get arrested." Huang's friend asks, "Where's the police?" and the security guard responds by saying, "They're on their way. We called them. You have to be patient."

The alleged attacker can then be seen preparing to get on another elevator before the video ends.

On Monday (May 22), MOFA issued a press release saying it had conducted an investigation into the incident and found that the Taiwan representative office in New York had received an emergency call on May 19 from the individual allegedly assaulted. MOFA expressed its sympathies when it was initially contacted by the victim and gathered information about the incident and what assistance the person needed.

The victim says that because library staff allowed the perpetrator to leave before the police arrived, she wishes to file suit against the library.

MOFA said that in accordance with its contingency plan for Taiwanese living abroad, the representative office provided the victim with lawyers' contact information, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, and other attorneys. It claimed that the office also said that if the person had any other needs in the future, it would be willing to provide assistance.

The Taiwan representative office in New York maintains close contact with local law enforcement agencies, and asks relevant agencies to protect the safety of Taiwanese nationals and overseas Taiwanese, MOFA said.

The ministry emphasized that it attaches great importance to the safety of overseas Taiwanese and Taiwanese students, and "condemns any form of violence, including racial hatred and discrimination, verbal and physical violence, etc." The ministry will ask all offices stationed in the United States to keep in touch with citizens overseas and Taiwanese students in the U.S. and provide necessary assistance in a timely fashion.

It closed by urging Taiwanese traveling abroad, overseas Taiwanese, and Taiwanese exchange students in the event of an emergency involving personal safety, in addition to taking personal self-protection measures, to immediately contact the local law enforcement agency or the nearest Taiwan representative office for assistance.

@niksvalerie If you see this woman in New York City please be careful My friend and I went to the 5th floor bathroom of the New York City Library (Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library) on 5/17 at 7:15pm. While we were in the bathroom, a woman was silently staring at us from the corner of the bathroom . As we were leaving the restroom, she randomly hit my friend in the head so hard that my friend's head bled and caused my friend to mentally breakdown. A few security guards came over and called the police. When the woman came out of the bathroom, all the security guards did was tell her she wouldn’t be allowed back into the library. NOTHING FURTHER. Then the woman tried to get on the elevator and leave the library. Unfortunately no one helped me stop her from leaving except me. The security guards continued to watch and tell me to calm down. They also kept saying that they had no right to do anything because of legal issues. The lady slowly left the library with no issue. I am extremely disappointed in the lack of effort shown by both NYPD and security of the NYC Public Library. #fyp ♬ original sound - Niks