On May 8, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 20 participants in attendance. The question posed to the participants was, “If you could choose one only movie, book or TV series to watch or read repeatedly for a one year quarantine, what would that be?” Members said they would choose: Harry Potter, The Office, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Seinfeld, The Dream of Red Chamber, On a Pale Horse, Matrix Trilogy, and Blade Runner.
The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc. But, due to COVID-19, we are moving online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30 pm on Friday, and the main event ends at 7:30 pm but feel free to stay on after 7:30 pm for smaller breakout groups.
We are giving away door prizes in some weeks. To win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize.
This week we gave away a 4-month Showtime subscription! Congratulations to Suehyan Cho O’Leary for winning and we hope you enjoy watching Billions, Homeland, and The Affair.
On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association (AABANY) hosted a webinar titled “Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This webinar examined the recent trends and data gathering of Anti-Asian violence incidents, as well as the legal framework of hate crimes under New York and Federal law. The nearly 100 attorneys who attended were given resources to advise the community as to their rights, along with opportunities to volunteer with AABANY.
The panel included Joe Gim, Deputy Bureau Chief, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office; Sheryl Koretz, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Jia Lynn Yang, Deputy National Editor, The New York Times; John Yang, Executive Director, Asian American Advancing Justice (AAJC); and Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. Karen R. King, Counsel at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and a Vice Chair on the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee, moderated the panel.
Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, began by sharing some statistics to give some context about the Asian American community both in New York City and in the United States. She highlighted that Asian Americans are the fastest growing population within New York City and across the country, currently composing 60% of the overall population in New York City. Approximately one in four Asian New Yorkers live in poverty, which is the highest of any racial groups in the city. Yoo noted the Asian American Federation’s aggressive media strategy in sharing stories from the Asian American community on different media outlets in hopes of combating the Asian American community’s continued invisibility and marginalization. She noted that a rise in anti-Asian discrimination started when Asian Americans began to wear masks back as early as January, a practice that is not considered strange in Asia due to experiences with previous outbreaks such as SARS in 2002.
Joe Gim, Deputy Bureau Chief, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, discussed the elements of a hate crime under NY Penal Law § 485.05. Gim explained that § 485.05 elevates the level of punishment that a defendant would receive for a crime that already exists on the books. Among the hate crimes or bias incidents in connection with the pandemic that are the topic of this discussion, there are only a few that would fall under this statute. A second statute that is particularly important to know for community outreach on this issue is aggravated harassment in the second degree under NY Penal Code § 240.30, which deals with verbal or nonverbal threats that fall under misdemeanors or hate crimes.
John Yang, Executive Director of Asian American Advancing Justice, touched on the different channels available to witnesses or victims and the proper actions to take when put in such a situation. A reluctance to report hate crimes has always been an issue for all minority groups. The panelists reinforced the point that bystanders are crucial to these acts of discrimination coming to light. While it may not be safe to directly intervene in these situations, simply calling law enforcement, documenting or recording the crimes, or consoling the victim helps tremendously. Even without knowing the person harassed, as long as someone has proof of the crime being committed, it is possible to prosecute the person responsible entirely by the bystander. There is currently AAAJ/Hollaback bystander training available to help prepare for such situations.
Jia Lynn Yang, Deputy National Editor for The New York Times, explained the thought process and impact of writing her article “Who Belongs in America,” which argues that the fight of Asian Americans for our place in the United States is far from over. Despite the historical struggle for racial equality through US immigration law, there are still those who deny the presence of Asians with legal status in the country. She found that people felt more comfortable with talking about their own experiences of harassment after her article affirmed the severity of these crimes.
Sheryl Koretz, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, highlighted the importance of identifying those responsible for the hate crimes, seeking reimbursement for the victims, and spreading the awareness of these cases. In New York, there are newly formed hate crime task forces such as the Asian hate crimes hotline launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Victims don’t necessarily need a physical injury to seek compensation. The police have reaffirmed that people reporting hate crimes will never be questioned about immigration status.
We thank all the panelists for joining us for this timely and vital CLE program, and we thank Karen for organizing it and serving as moderator. Be on the lookout for upcoming community presentations on this topic during APA Heritage Month in May. We hope to be able to count on attorney volunteers to assist victims of anti-Asian violence. If you are interested in volunteering, let us know by filling out the CRTF form using the link above.
The video of the webinar is embedded in this blog post and you can view it by clicking on the image above.
On May 1, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 17 members in attendance. The question posed to the participants was “What is the first thing you plan on doing after quarantine ends?” Members reported they wanted to eat at their favorite restaurant, do food tours, go to the gym and get hair cuts.
The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID-19, we are moving online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but feel free to stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.
We are giving away door prizes on some weeks. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the aabany.org calendar to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize. This week, we let the members choose what prize they wanted to win: (HBO Subscription, NYTimes subscription, Washington Post subscription, Trader Joe’s Gift Card, or a one year AABANY Membership. The participants voted for a free AABANY Membership! Congratulations to Bart Wu on winning a one-year membership renewal to AABANY.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights, the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, NYC Census 2020, and the Queens Borough President’s Office are hosting an API Heritage Month Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, May 5 at 3:00pm.
The month of May serves as Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, and is a time where we recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. As a City, we recognize the need to share resources with API communities, and to create a feedback loop to better understand how the City can be of more support during this time.
This virtual town hall will give attendees an opportunity to get updates on initiatives and work being led by New York City Commission on Human Rights, the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, the Department of Consumer & Worker Protection, the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment, NYC Census 2020, and the Queens Borough President’s Office. As you hear from senior officials within these agencies and offices, this virtual town hall will also be an opportunity for community members to share issues and concerns that are related to the work.
On April 27, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) along with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and many other bar associations signed onto a statement of support for Congressional resolutions opposing anti-Asian sentiment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community has been the target of increasing acts of bias, racism, and xenophobia in connection with the coronavirus. AABANY firmly stands against racism and discrimination and is proud to support efforts to address the experiences our community may face with these issues.
Legal Services NYC has compiled an extensive COVID-19 Resources Guide for its clients. The resource guide includes, but is not limited to, updates on the local, state, and federal court systems; public benefits and unemployment insurance resources; and information on how to continue to access our services. It is continuously being updated and is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Legal Services NYC’s Access Line is OPEN and the organization continues to serve clients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Legal Services NYC’s physical offices are closed as of March 17, 2020, the organization’s dedicated staff are working remotely on behalf of new and existing clients.
Current clients should contact their advocate’s office or extension for more information about their cases.
If you are seeking legal assistance on a new matter, you can call the Legal Services NYC legal assistance hotline at 917-661-4500, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff can take calls in any language.