Free Self-Defense Class Offered to Empower New Yorkers Against Racially-Biased Attacks

The Alicia and Jason Lee Foundation will partner with University Settlement to provide free self-defense classes for their neighbors, many of whom are Asian, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Responding to the rise in unprovoked violent assaults on Asian New Yorkers and other minority groups, the free classes seek to empower participants with the skills needed to protect themselves if attacked. The classes will primarily be geared toward older people, who are often targets of racially motivated violence.

“No one should be afraid to leave their house or live in constant fear of being assaulted because of what they look like,” said founders Alicia Lee and Jason Lee in a joint statement. “We hope that the skills that these classes teach will help our community members to feel secure in walking down the street and confident in the event of an unprovoked attack.”

“As racist violence directed toward the diverse Asian communities of New York City has increased over the last 18 months, we’ve stood in solidarity, rage, and grief with our neighbors targeted by xenophobia,” said Melissa Aase, CEO of University Settlement. “We are grateful to partner with the Alicia and Jason Lee Foundation to offer self-defense classes to interested community members. This resource meaningfully contributes to our efforts to build community strength.”

The curriculum for the self-defense classes has been created by New York City-based fitness expert Lamar McKay in conjunction with wellness expert Pam Rosenberg and trainer/artist Sammy Yuen.

Classes will be taught in English and Chinese and will begin in October 2021. Initially, two classes will be offered, each taking place across five weeks – one for all interested participants, and one more appropriate for adults over 60. Registration will be limited to University Settlement program participants.

Download a copy of this news release.

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