Woman in anti-Asian attack says she prayed for her attacker

NEW YORK — A Filipina American woman whose beating outside a Manhattan building spurred outrage over violence aimed at Asian Americans said in an interview that she prayed for the man who attacked her.

Speaking to ABC News/“Nightline,” Vilma Kari said, “We pray for those who persecute us or those who have harmed us, and show them love. You know, that’s the only thing, because love is the most powerful thing in the world.”

Kari, 65, was walking on her way to church on March 29 when an assailant kicked her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, and stomped on her, while onlookers watched from inside the building.

A 38-year-old man was charged with assault and attempted assault as hate crimes in connection to the attack. It drew national attention at a time when anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked.

Kari said that the attacker told her she didn’t belong here. Since the attack, she and her daughter have spoken out in efforts to raise awareness about bias against Asian Americans.

“I say I belong and I want to insist I belong,” she said. “I have contributed to the success of this country in my own way, no matter how small is that, you know. So I think that. I just belong.”