The Wall Street Journal reported that 180 hate crimes were recorded in the city from January 1 through May 2, an increase of 73% from the same period last year, according to the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force.
Between January 1 and April 4, there were 80 hate crimes in the city that targeted Asian-Americans, the Journal reported.
Hate crimes targeting Jewish people were the second-highest behind anti-Asian incidents, with 54 reported between January 1 and May 2.
The NYPD has been ramping up efforts to combat anti-Asian hate crimes and set up the NYPD’s Asian Hate Crimes Task Force in the fall.
Last month, the department also announced a New Hate Crime Review Panel where civilian leaders would look at what challenges there are in determining whether a crime is in fact a hate crime.
“Our continuing partnerships with the community remain the cornerstone of our policing philosophy,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “Whether teaming our cops up with the community to clean graffiti, partnering with esteemed advisors to reimagine policing for the 21st century, or ensuring an independent assessment of all potential hate crimes, we are always striving to make the department fairer, stronger, and more effective.”
The NYPD did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.
As a second-generation Chinese American, I’ve always felt disconnected from Chinese culture – I struggle with the language, am unfamiliar with its customs and traditions, and feel like an impostor in a Chinese body when interacting with first-generation immigrants.
But I also constantly feel alienated in America. Despite having lived in the US my entire life, I can’t help but feel like a foreigner in my own hometown, where people look at my face and immediately see me as something otherly. My whole life, I’ve identified with the label of “American” as much as I’ve identified with “chink,” “gook,” and “virus.”
The rapid rise in anti-Asian violence and the fear it’s instilled in recent months has been a brutal reminder to millions of us of what it means to exist as an Asian in America, and it’s left us in a state of overwhelming grief and anger.
In light of these hate crimes, Asians ranging from celebrities to politicians to ordinary people have spoken out against the increasingly rampant discrimination we face. This is exactly what we should be doing. Given the widespread reluctance to acknowledge anti-Asian racism, even among Asians ourselves, we need to make our voices heard.
But at the same time, however, Asian American advocacy is far too often predicated on rhetoric that’s implicitly anti-Black.
Instead of uplifting us, this harms all people of color and pits us against one another, thereby upholding the white supremacy that oppresses and dehumanizes us.
Growing up in the US, I’ve been constantly surrounded by the stereotypes associated with being Asian.
We’re purportedly all smart, hardworking, quiet, and obedient. I took pride in hearing friends, teachers, and family members, Asian and non-Asian alike, apply these characteristics to my own race. It felt like a compliment; Asians were all high-achieving, so I automatically was too.
When I was told that stereotypes were harmful at a young age, I wondered how this could be possible. After all, what harm could come out of someone believing I was intelligent and hardworking?
The narrative that hard work and intelligence – and, by extension, success and prosperity – is an inherent part of the Asian identity not only veils the discrimination we face, but also perpetuates racism against other groups. The assumption is that Asians – the “model minority” – can achieve high levels of success in academia and the workforce despite being people of color, so if Black people fail to do the same, it’s because of their own inherent shortcomings rather than systemic barriers.
Because being perceived as hardworking doesn’t seem offensive or harmful at face value, many Asians buy straight into this narrative, resulting in a subtle sense of anti-Blackness that often manifests itself in Asian American advocacy.
We shouldn’t treat racism like a competition
When I first heard about the targeted shootings of Asian women in Atlanta several weeks ago, I instantly thought of the tragic murder of Vincent Chin in 1982. Beyond that, however, I was also reminded of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans who were unjustly murdered.
Considering the racial unrest in the US this past year, it can be easy to make this connection between anti-Asian and anti-Black violence; it’s a reminder that the oppression of one race is tied to that of other races and reaffirms the need to stand in solidarity with other people of color.
However, we need to be careful that these connections don’t turn into comparisons.
In response to skyrocketing anti-Asian violence, some people have adopted “Asian Lives Matter” as a catch-all phrase to condemn racism against Asians. Of course, our lives do matter, but using this phrase is fallacious in a way similar to “All Lives Matter” – it’s not untrue, but it’s a direct response to “Black Lives Matter” that attempts to derail our focus on anti-Black oppression and shift it to a different group. The history of racism in the US is far too nuanced for one marginalized group to simply replace another, even if it’s just in a saying or hashtag.
Our goal should not be to replace or diminish the Black Lives Matter movement but to simultaneously advocate for Black and Asian Americans. Alternative hashtags like #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate accomplish this by condemning anti-Asian racism without co-opting a movement that isn’t ours.
That being said, this underlying sense of competition – or, as activist Elizabeth Martínez once called it, “Oppression Olympics” – spans far greater than the use of a hashtag. Some Asians have been quick to criticize Black Lives Matter activists for not explicitly acknowledging anti-Asian violence. If activists can advocate for Black people, they reason, then why can’t they advocate for Asians?
Instead of uplifting ourselves and shedding light on our struggles, this reasoning insinuates that we are only owed support because Black people also received it. It forces us to spend our energy competing with one another rather than truly addressing white supremacy. It unravels the solidarity between Asian and Black activists and downplays the significant work Black civil rights activists have done to benefit people of color throughout history.
Activism is not a zero-sum game; fighting anti-Black racism benefits Asians and vice versa.
To truly contribute to Asian activism, here’s what we do.
Let’s focus on uplifting the voices of Asian Americans. Rather than place blame on the Black Lives Matter movement for occupying so much attention, let’s take inspiration from the decades of hard work activists have done to bring such attention to racial issues.
More than 1,800 New Yorkers have signed up to walk Asian Americans from any public area to their destination in an effort to combat and prevent anti-Asian violence and hate crimes.
Volunteers – many of whom speak Mandarin or Cantonese – are patrolling New York City neighborhoods like Chinatown and offering escorting services to anyone who asks for their help, Pix11 News reported.
Volunteers, Pix11 News reports, give out flyers and wear bright safety belts. Each shift lasts two hours. A fundraiser to support the SafeWalks initiative has raised about $17,000 since it was posted to GoFundMe in February.
“We need to show our humanity. We can’t let people hurt our seniors, our elders,” volunteer Lisa Gold told Pix11 News.
Anti-Asian violence has surged
In recent weeks, there have been numerous anti-Asian attacks in New York City.
The shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long from Woodstock, Georgia, suggested to police that the attacks were due to a sex addiction and were not racially motivated.
Multiple research studies have identified that the number of anti-Asian crimes and violence have spiked in the last year.
An analysis from Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, for example, found hate crimes overall decreased by 7% in 2020. That same study found that hate crimes specifically against Asian people rose by about 150%.
Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit tracking violence toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, released a report that identified nearly 3,800 instances of anti-Asian discrimination just in the past year.
And that’s a very mild estimate, Stop AAPI hate said in its report.
“The number of hate incidents reported to our center represent only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur, but it does show how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination, and the types of discrimination they face,” the report says.
“Not enough has been done to protect Asian Americans from heightened levels of hate, discrimination and violence. Concrete action must be taken now,” a press release from Stop AAPI Hate said. “Anything else is unacceptable.”
Pedestrians in New York who want to request a safe escort or to volunteer can do so on the SafeWalks website, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by DMing the @SafeWalksNYC handle on Instagram.
Prosecutors in two major cities brought forth hate crime charges against two men in separate racially driven anti-Asian incidents.
In San Francisco, the District Attorney’s Office elevated what were initially misdemeanor charges against 53-year-old Victor Brown to felony assault and hate crime charges, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Earlier this month, Brown allegedly attacked and hurled racist slurs at an Asian American man.
In Seattle, King County prosecutors charged 51-year-old Christopher Hamner with a hate crime for allegedly throwing items at cars and screaming profanities at Asian women and children, the Seattle Times reported.
Hamner, who is being held on a $75,000 bond, allegedly yelled profanities and threw things at one woman who was stopped at a red light with her two young children on March 16. A few days later, he allegedly cut off another Asian woman’s car and threw a water bottle at it.
The hate crime charges come as people across the country protest the rise in anti-Asian-American attacks.
There has been a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans since the coronavirus pandemic started. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center that has been tracking cases from March to December of last year, said they received “over 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate” crimes.
There were rallies in over a dozen cities held on Saturday alone, ABC reported.
“We’re out here to say that we’re not going to tolerate racism towards Asian American communities,” Satya Vatti, an organizer with the Answer (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, told ABC affiliate WSB in Atlanta.
In Los Angeles, hundreds marched for a mile through Koreatown carrying signs and demanding an end to discriminatory acts towards Asians, CBSLA reported.
The rallies come after a 21-year-old man was accused of killing four people at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia, before heading to Gold Spa and the Aromatherapy Spa in Atlanta, where another four people were killed earlier this month.
Four people were killed there, according to the sheriff’s department: two Asian women and the two white victims.
Later, police were called to Gold Spa in Atlanta, around 30 miles away. The Atlanta Police Department said they found three women there shot dead, and a fourth at Aromatherapy Spa just across the road.
None of the women have been named. According to CNN, authorities are withholding the identities while they inform the victims’ next of kin.
According to local Korean-language outlet Atlanta K the women killed in the Gold Spa were of Korean descent, with one victim in her mid-50s and another in her mid-70s.
In a statement posted on Twitter the Stop AAPI Hate group, formed to combat the surge in hate crimes, described the killings as an “unspeakable tragedy.”
“The reported shootings of Asian American women on Tuesday in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy – for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community – which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination,” said the statements.
President Joe Biden in his Thursday address to the nation denounced a surge in attacks on Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the prime-time address marking the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 outbreak being declared a pandemic, Biden said that Asian Americans had been subjected to “vicious hate crimes” and been “attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated” during the pandemic.
“At this very moment, so many of them – our fellow Americans on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives – and still, still they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” said Biden.
The remarks come after a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, this month found that while overall hate crimes had fallen 7% during the pandemic, those targeting Asian Americans had increased 150%.
It followed a report by the UN last October which found an “an alarming level” of racist violence and abuse against Asian Americans during the pandemic.
E. Tendayi Achiume, one of the authors of the UN report, said the president had fostered an environment in which Asian Americans were being scapegoated for the pandemic.
“I think it’s absolutely the case that if you have the head of government speaking about groups in ways that stigmatizes them and associates them with the virus, it creates an environment where violence is more permissible and attacks are more permissible,” she told NBC News. “It really does legitimize those kinds of acts.”