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Asian American activist gets tearful while thanking 2 heroes

By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent

Barbara Yau just had to do something.

When she heard two librarians lead police to a man accused of attacking seven Asian women in New York in just a few hours, she didn’t hesitate to act.

Yau, who also volunteers for AsAmNews, went out of her way to locate the heroes and personally thank them.

“I stopped by the NYPL The New York Public Library on behalf of our group to thank Roshanta Williams and Elmirel Cephas,” Yau wrote on Facebook.

Police arrested Steven Zajonc accusing him of punching and elbowing his victims.

Cephas and Williams recognized a photo of Zajonc as a regular library patron who comes nearly every day and contacted police as soon as he walked in for his visit.

Yau is co-founder of Concerned Asian American Citizens of New York City. The group has been active in distributing information about how to stay safe at schools, subway stations, and street corners.

She calls her empathy a “blessing and a curse. It has helped me so much as a therapist, but I tend to absorb pain from people around me in other areas of my life,” she said to AsAmNews.

The continuing rise of anti-Asian hate incidents wears on Yau’s mental health. That’s why she tries to do something positive to ease her pain.

By Concerned AsAm Citizens of NYC via Facebook

“I’m not someone who easily gets tearful, but I couldn’t help crying while thanking these two heroes. Although I embarrassingly blubbered as I spoke to them, I hope they were able to feel the depth of our gratitude. From us, I gifted them Starbucks gift cards, notes from some group members, as well as Concerned AsAm Citizens of NYC – CAAC NYC’s #stopasianhate Skye buttons, and they were very appreciative.

By Concerned AsAm Citizens of NYC via Facebook

“If you do happen to be around the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, please consider stopping by and personally thanking them too. It wasn’t busy and pretty quiet in there, being a library and all lol.”

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story, or making a contribution.


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