ETHAN PATRICK WRITES – Can recently elected Mayor Eric Adams stop hate crimes against Asian American New Yorkers?
Such crimes have spiked since the pandemic began, causing Assembly member Ron Kim to call on the governor to declare a state of emergency: “The community feels a lot of anger, as well as fear, every time they leave the house.”
One woman was pushed in front of a subway train. Another senior citizen was punched in the face, where the suspect reportedly told police that Chinese people “look like measles.” A woman was stabbed 40 times in her Chinatown apartment, with her “Stop Asian Hate” memorial being destroyed by vandals.
Kim and other Asian American leaders have stated that their community is at a breaking point, with hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers quadrupling in the last year-131, compared to only 28 in 2020 and just one in 2019.
Adams is a Democrat who won the election on November 2 of 2021 with his tough-on-crime message. But the new mayor faces challenges of distrust between the police and the community, with some saying the NYPD does not take hate crimes seriously enough. Esther Lee, an Asian New Yorker, was spit on and called a “carrier” on a subway train one night in October of 2021. When filing a police report she was told she was exaggerating and blowing the situation out of proportion. Police refused to investigate the event as a hate crime until it was later reviewed by a civilian panel. Lee spoke out about the event and the actions following saying, “How many more of us need to be sliced with a box cutter, bashed in the head with a rock, or more recently punched over 125 times before it gets labeled a hate crime?”
Many hate crimes that have taken place in New York are not reported to police who they perceive as not taking them seriously. Asian American Federation executive director Jo-Ann Yoo stated, “You tell a police officer what happens, and they say, ‘Nope, it’s not a hate crime.’ The conclusion’s already been made, which discourages people.” According to the FBI, a hate crime can be described as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender.” Through this definition, Asian Americans living in New York have grounds to file these crimes as hate crimes, but because police are not doing so there has been frustration throughout the community over the NYPD’s handling of these cases.
Mayor Eric Adams said that he agreed with the community, and recently reassigned the head of NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force to a different task force. Adams stated, “When I sat down with the members of the community, they were very concerned on how we were designating these crimes as hate crimes. We took immediate action. I had new leadership over at the hate crime unit to send the right message. We’re not going to try to cover this up.”
Mayor Eric Adams is also calling for prosecutors to stop offering plea bargains to those accused of hate crimes stating, “no plea bargain should be given to someone that commits a hate crime in this city. We need to stop negotiating these cases out.” Additionally, Adams looks to put together an emergency task force to address the intersection of public safety, mental health, and homelessness.
Imagine: Asian Americans living in New York City fear leaving their homes due to the anti-Asian violence that has plagued their city. The community looks to their new mayor, elected early last November, to make significant progress on this issue that has been escalating since long before his term.