As hate-fueled violence continues to rise, advocates are encouraging victims of hate crimes to report incidents targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. In New York City especially, where hate-based crimes have reached an all-time high, advocates are urging individuals to report all incidents of hate.
The urge follows a report released Tuesday titled “Endless Tide,” that noted how many attacks on AAPI community members ended in guilty dispositions for alleged perpetrators in the past year. The report, released by the Asian American Bar Association of New York, detailed how many incidents were reported to law enforcement officials and how difficult those cases were to prosecute. It served as the organization’s second report on the surge of attacks against New York City’s AAPI community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report came months after the deaths of at least three Asian women in New York: Michelle Go, Christina Yuna Lee, and GuiYing Ma. Within the first nine months of 2021, the report documented at least 233 incidents in New York against members of the AAPI community. Of those reported incidents about 60% were assault, 20% were physical harassment, 8% were verbal harassment, 7% were criminal mischief or property damage, and 4% were thefts.
“We want to encourage people to report,” Chris Kwok, a board member of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and a report executive editor, said in an interview with lohud. “But the question is turning the ball back to them. Once it’s reported, what happens? How do you deal with it?”
The report not only analyzed what types of crimes were reported but the process of how they were prosecuted. Of the 233 incidents reported, 91 led to arrests and 41 were charged as hate crimes. But sadly, only seven led to guilty dispositions of hate crimes. According to the report, at least 20 were still pending as of April 2022.
According to CNN, the report used data from law enforcement officials, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and news reports from “traditional media”; no specific media outlets were named.
The number of hate crimes reported by AABANY significantly differs from the New York Police Department’s count of 118 anti-Asian hate incidents during the same period, between January and September 2021. However, researchers expect the number to be higher still due to the number of crimes that go underreported.
Hate crimes were defined as “anti-Asian incidents,” both physical or verbal, against someone who is Asian or appeared to be of Asian descent, where the intent of the crime was racially motivated.
The report also found that more than 59% of all victims were between the ages of 20 to 49. Additionally, women were targeted at a higher rate than men, at 55%.
During a press conference announcing the report findings, former United States Attorney Loretta Lynch joined representatives from AABANY in calling the attacks on the AAPI community “an endless tide of anti-Asian violence that we’ve seen across our city.”
“That is the nature of hate crimes—they spur copycats, they spawn further actions of violence, they lead to desensitization of the basic humanity that we all share. And they make our world, our country, our city less safe for everyone,” Lynch said. “It may be part of us, but we are better than this. We can make people safe. We can make people safe feel welcome in their communities. We can give them peace and security and we can eliminate this hate that is based on nothing more than a distinction without a difference.”
In terms of recommendations, the report included nine, mainly focusing on the need to improve law enforcement agencies’ data reporting on hate incidents by making the data publicly accessible.
The report recommended amending New York’s hate crimes law to include more incidents by classifying something as a hate crime if it was based “in whole or in part” on a person’s protected characteristic.
It also called for reclassifying aggravated harassment that involves bias or hate speech into the hate crimes law. According to the report, out of 488 hate crimes reported to law enforcement in New York state, nearly 45% were harassment crimes; these crimes are currently excluded from hate crime law.
The report follows multiple others that also stressed the increase of crimes targeting AAPI individuals across the nation. Studies have found not only that violence increased by 339% in 2021 compared to the previous year, but that Asian Americans are changing their daily routines out of fear of violence.
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