On November 29th, AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) led by Chair Elaine Chiu and member Jim Lin, attended the sentencing of Tammel Esco in support of the survivor of a horrific act of hate that took place in Yonkers on March 11, 2022. AAVTF member Jennifer Wu represented the survivor pro bono as the case against Esco proceeded through the courts and accompanied the survivor, together with co-counsel Johan Tatoy (also an AABANY member) at the sentencing.
Tammel Esco was arrested after he brutally beat a 67-year-old Filipino-American woman at the entrance of her Yonkers apartment. Esco pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree assault as a hate crime and was sentenced to 17-1/2 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Judge Minihan presided at the sentencing and recounted Esco’s sad history. She offered him the chance to apologize or explain himself, but he declined. In her victim impact statement, the survivor stated, “A complete stranger heartlessly spit, beat, and kicked me over 100 times just because of my heritage. I lost months of my life. I will forever be on edge.” Currently, she remains in stable condition, yet had to move out of her longtime home due to the traumatic event.
After the sentencing, AABANY members had the chance to meet the District Attorney of Westchester County, Mimi Rocah, at her press conference, where Jennifer Wu commented on the survivor’s behalf, stating, “Leaving the home that you’ve had for 24 years and where you raised your daughters, is incredibly painful.” During the meeting, AAVTF members offered proposals on statutory reform and how to prevent such gruesome cases from occurring in the Asian American community in the future. Elaine Chiu commented further on AAVTF’s attendance at the sentencing and the press conference, stating, “It was a very valuable day with efforts that contribute to the multi-faceted work of our Task Force.”
Watch this News 12 report about the sentencing, in which Johan Tatoy, as the survivor’s attorney, spoke at the press conference and AAVTF Task Force Chair Elaine Chiu was interviewed.
To learn more about the AAVTF and support its efforts, please click here.
On November 19, 2022, the Prosecutors, ADR & and Women’s Committees teamed up to learn self defense at the NY Wutang Chinese Martial Arts Institute (“NY Wutang”) in downtown Flushing.
During these times of anti-Asian violence, AABANY members wanted to be prepared. Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Joe Gim first taught members about the New York laws on the justification defense, particularly in connection with the use of physical force in defense of a person.
Next, the Master of NY Wutang and Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Dave Chiang trained the attendees. Here, Dave wore his ADA hat as well as his Master Chiang hat.
Master Chiang taught the group that the first step is to be aware of one’s surroundings: “Don’t keep your head down looking at your phone.” The group also learned how to quickly turn their camera on to try to capture photos or video of the perpetrator.
Next, Master Chiang warmed everyone up with stretching exercises and the group practiced shouting, “Stay away! Leave me alone!” so that witnesses will know that you are not the initial aggressor.
The group then learned that the three weakest parts of an attacker are their eyes, throat and groin. Master Chiang taught attendees how to strike and target those body parts during an attack. The group practiced with each other and took away valuable information we will not soon forget.
Thanks to all the co-sponsoring Committees for putting together an informative and useful program on self-defense during these challenging times, and thanks to Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Joe Gim for teaching us the law on self-defense and Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair (and Kung Fu Master) David Chiang for teaching those who attended how to protect themselves while following the law.
To learn more about the Prosecutors Committee, click here. To learn more about the ADR Committee, click here. To learn more about the Women’s Committee, click here.
On June 23, 2022, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the League of United Latin American Citizens of New York (LULAC NY) honored AABANY for its work in fighting Anti-Asian violence.
For 93 years, LULAC has been fighting for the civil rights of the Latin American community. The Director of LULAC NY, Aureo Ivan Cardona, spoke on the importance of teaming up with other organizations to fight injustice and hate, because any group could be the next victim or scapegoat.
LULAC presented President William Ng with a beautiful wood-carved plaque that says “Stop the Hate… Tolerate.” Joining Will at the reception were Beatrice Leong, Co-VP of Programs and Operations, Shirley Bi, Secretary, and Will Hao, Board Director.
AABANY thanks LULAC NY for bestowing this honor and recognizing AABANY’s anti-Asian violence work.
On May 31, 2022, AABANY released its second report on anti-Asian hate and violence in New York City, entitled Endless Tide: The Continuing Struggle to Overcome Anti-Asian Hate in New York. The report examines the increased incidents of violence against Asian Americans in 2021 and proposes solutions to combat the lack of justice. Endless Tide is dedicated to the memory of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American autoworker murdered 40 years ago in an act of racial violence outside of Detroit.
AABANY held a press conference on the morning of May 31 at the offices of Paul, Weiss in midtown Manhattan. Remarks were delivered by Eva Zhao, the widow of Zhiwen Yan, the delivery worker who was murdered in Forest Hills.
“I want justice.” said Eva Zhao. “I really don’t want to see another family go through the same kind of pain.”
(On June 1, Glenn Hirsch was arrested on charges of murdering Zhiwen Yan.)
AABANY was also joined by numerous elected officials and community leaders including Council Member Sandra Ung, State Senator John Liu, Assembly Member Ron Kim, Partner at Paul, Weiss and former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and Regional Director New York/New Jersey for the ADL Scott Richman.
“We can make people safe, We can make people feel welcomed in their communities. We can give them peace and security.” Loretta Lynch noted. “We can eliminate this hate that is based on nothing more than a distinction without a difference.”
Endless Tide has received widespread coverage in the media since its release. The report has been cited by more than a dozen different publications to date, including CNN, CBS News, NBC News, and the New York Law Journal:
AABANY thanks everyone who made this project possible. Special thanks to NAPABA for selecting AABANY as a recipient of its 2022 Affiliate Grant Program. The NAPABA Affiliate Grant Program supports affiliates and national associates in carrying out activities to further their missions and goals. To read the full report, please click on the image above. To view the press conference, please click here.
On May 28, 2022, the Membership Committee hosted a #RestaurantSeries lunch at Louie’s Pizza. AABANY is trying to support small Asian owned businesses and restaurants through our Restaurant Series, which will be held twice a month. In this case, we wanted to recognize the father and son duo, Cazim and Louie, for coming to the aid of an AAPI woman being robbed and attacked in front of their pizza store. The father and son stepped in for the woman, chased her assailants, and detained two of the suspects until the police arrived. Cazim and Louie received a combined ten stab wounds and each suffered collapsed lungs.
AABANY members enjoyed many pizza pies, from plain cheese to a variety of toppings. AABANY President William Ng came by with his son Justin. When co-owner Louie Suljovic came by to our tables to drop off a pie, he asked Will what high school he went to and mentioned that he looked “very familiar.” Will then thought about it for a minute and it dawned on him that he and Louie played basketball together in middle school in Queens. Small world! Karen Lin, AABANY member and candidate for Judge of the Civil Court in Queens also joined us with her husband and three sons. They spent their morning handing out campaign literature to help Karen become the first East Asian woman elected to be a judge in Queens. Read more about Karen in this profile: https://blog.aabany.org/2022/05/17/aabany-member-profile-karen-lin-runs-for-queens-civil-court-judge/.
We concluded the lunch by celebrating AABANY Vice President of Programming and Operations Beatrice Leong’s birthday with a cake from Martha’s Country Bakery in Bayside. We kicked off Beatrice’s birthday weekend with a rousing round of “Happy Birthday!”
Thank you to those who came out! Our next #RestaurantSeries will be at Lil Chef Mama. Enjoy a delicious Thai-fusion dinner with the Membership and Solo and Small Firm Practice Committees while supporting a local Asian-owned business. Dinner includes shared appetizers and an individual entree.
We hope you will join us on June 9 at 7pm at Lil Chef Mama (27 Cliff Street, Manhattan).
We pause to remember the lives of eight people lost, including six Asian women, in the Atlanta-area shootings one year ago. As we continue to grapple with the continued impact of anti-Asian hate and violence on our communities, we hope you are taking care and finding space for reflection and healing. We invite you to join and share events from the NAPABA community and affiliates.
Join GAPABA in partnership with The AAPI Crime Victims & Education Fund, The GAPABA Law Foundation, NAAAP-Atlanta, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. Register for the event here.
All proceeds go towards the AAPI Crime Victims & Education Fund. If you would like to make an extra online donation, you may do so here.
On March 15, 2022, the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado is hosting a press conference and panel discussion at the Colorado School of Public Health’s Injury & Violence Prevention Center where members of the media and community are invited to learn about the issues impacting the AAPI community and what the community needs in order to end gun violence and hate crimes. Following the press conference, a panel will discuss resources for coping with the trauma associated with community victimization, and tools for where we – as a community – go from here. Register here to attend in-person or via Zoom.
On March 16, 2022, the Asian American Bar Association of Houston is sponsoring the Houston component of the National Asian Women’s rally on the one-year anniversary of the tragic Atlanta spa shootings.
Similar rallies will take place simultaneously in Atlanta, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, Washington D.C., and other cities around the country. The Houston rally will be held at Discovery Green in downtown Houston at 6:00 pm CT.
The goal of the event is to uplift the experiences of API women by acknowledging the complexities of their struggles, demanding change, and celebrating women’s strength. Conscious of the anniversary of the Atlanta shootings, and the one too many tragedies in over the last year, this event is meant to emphasize that the violence enacted on API women’s bodies does not solely define their identities and existence.
On November 30, 2021, the New York State Bar Association presented the Bar Leaders Innovation Award in the Large Bar Association category to AABANY for its report A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence Against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19. The award is presented to “recognize Bar Associations for adapting to the needs of their members and the community at large by introducing innovative programs, ideas, and methodologies that benefit everyone involved.”
The Dominican Bar Association (DBA) received an award in the Small Bar Association category in recognition of donating and delivering $10,000 worth of essential foods to at-risk families in the South Bronx. The award was accepted on behalf of DBA by the President, Doralyn De Dios.
A joint award was presented to the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY), in the Small Bar Association category, and Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA), in the Medium Bar Association category, in recognition of program collaboration for members and communities most affected by COVID-19. MuBANY and MMBA started an Affinity Bar Collective which brought together a coalition of about twenty affinity bars (including AABANY) to collaborate on assisting members and communities most affected by COVID-19. President of MuBANY, Sania Khan, accepted the award on behalf of MuBANY and President of MMBA, Anta Cisse-Green, accepted the award on behalf of MBBA.
In the Medium Bar Association category, the Immediate Past President, Paula Engel, accepted the award presented to the Onondaga County Bar Association for the Bond, Schoeneck & King Series on Race and Justice in Central New York. The series was created to provide legal and non-legal programming aimed at opening a respectful, constructive and healthy dialogue about systemic racism and unequal access to justice in the community.
Terry discussed AABANY’s journey on writing the report. In 2020, AABANY embarked on this report in response to the increase in anti-Asian racism and violence. AABANY began to take measures to combat these issues which included a call for local and national leaders to denounce hate crimes and putting on programs to teach attorneys about hate crime. AABANY started the report in mid-2020 and published the report in February 2021. The proposals for change included more education on the history of anti-Asian violence, discrimination, hatred and xenophobia; increased diversity and inclusion in law enforcement and government; and improved collection and classification of data on hate crimes. To advance the implementation of the Report’s proposals, AABANY has formed an Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, which remains active and involves participation by numerous AABANY Committees. Although anti-Asian violence accounts have faded from the media, the Task Force is continuing the fight to turn the tide of hate and violence against the AAPI community.
Terry thanked MuBANY and MBBA for reviewing early drafts of the report. He also gave thanks to Paul, Weiss for co-authoring the report. Yang urged attendees to donate to the Turning the Tide (T3) Project, a joint initiative with AALFNY.
The New York County Lawyers Association also received an award in the Large Bar Association category in recognition of the COVID-19 Resource Center for lawyers. In March 2020, NYCLA announced the launch of their COVID-19 Resource Center which provided new content on a daily basis, expanded CLE Tuition Assistance Program, and offered low cost and no-cost online CLEs. The award was accepted by NYCLA President, Vincent Chang, a former AABANY President (2007).
AABANY previously received the Bar Leaders Innovation Award three times. In 2019, AABANY was recognized for its Pro Bono Legal Advice and Referral Clinic program, a collaboration with AALFNY. In 2016, AABANY received the award for its Seventh Annual Fall Conference: Speak Up / Rise Up / Lift Up. In 2013, AABANY was recognized for its trial reenactment, IVA: The Myth of Tokyo Rose, Allegiance on Trial.
AABANY congratulates all recipients of the award and thanks the New York State Bar Association for this honor and recognition.
On September 21, 2021, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), proudly announced an award of $10,000 to the AAPI Crime Victims and Education Fund (“Fund”) to support the Fund’s efforts to assist crime victims and implement educational programs specifically aimed at reducing violence targeted against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) population across the nation. Created by NAPABA affiliate the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA) and the GAPABA Law Foundation out of the aftermath of the Atlanta spa shootings, the Fund will provide emergency monies to victims in need of urgent assistance. The Korean American Bar Association of Georgia (KABA-GA) is also a founding partner. The Fund is also committed to raising awareness about rights of AAPIs, providing linguistic access to justice, and supporting other educational activities such as bystander training.
“NAPABA is honored to support the AAPI Crime Victims and Education Fund and all the critical work the Fund will undertake not only to help victims recover from the wounds of anti-Asian hate crimes, but the affirmative educational work that will help prevent future hate from occurring,” said A.B. Cruz III, President of NAPABA. “The Fund’s mission aligns with NAPABA’s priorities of forging meaningful relationships between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect, as well as combating stereotypes, and raising awareness and visibility of AAPI’s not only in legal circles, but in civic life in this country.”
“GAPABA is grateful for NAPABA’s continuing support and collaboration in our shared goal of ensuring that AAPIs remain visible and receive the support they need,” said Angela Hsu, President of GAPABA. “While we have launched the AAPI Crime Victims and Education Fund from Georgia, which became the epicenter for the rebirth of an anti-Asian hatred movement in the wake of the Atlanta spa shootings, we recognize that AAPIs around the country have been systemically overlooked for philanthropy, crime victim support, and other social services. This is why we established the fund to operate at a national level.” The Fund is currently overseen by the GAPABA Law Foundation, which is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and has an Advisory Board consisting of legal and community leaders from across the United States. The effort is led by a six-person volunteer executive committee, consisting of Angela Hsu, of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and President of GAPABA; BJay Pak, of Alston & Bird LLP, former U.S. Attorney, N.D. Georgia; Christopher Chan, of Eversheds Sutherland; Edward Sohn, of Factor Law, Inc, and the GAPABA Law Foundation; Sara Hamilton, of Thompson Hine LLP, President of KABA-GA; and Timothy Wang, of Delta Air Lines, and President Elect of GAPABA. To contribute to the Fund please visit GAPABA Law Foundation for details.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
On May 20, the Historical Society of the New York Courts, the Asian American Judges Association of New York, and Meyer Suozzi English & Klein P.C. co-sponsored a panel discussion on the role of Asian Americans in the federal and state judiciary. The panelists of the event were Hon. Pamela K. Chen, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York and AABANY member; Hon. Toko Serita, New York State Acting Supreme Court Justice, Presiding Judge of the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court, and AABANY member; and Hon. Anil C. Singh, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department. Hon. Lillian Wan, New York State Acting Supreme Court Justice and AABANY member, moderated the panel.
New York State Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore opened the event with a few remarks, thanking the panelists and acknowledging their trailblazing careers as Asian-Americans. Chief Judge DiFiore also emphasized the importance of remembering AAPI history and the United States’ legacy of racial exclusion against Asians. She then turned the program over to Judge Randall T. Eng. Judge Eng, Of Counsel at Meyer Suozzi and former Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, welcomed the attendees and shared his experiences as the first Asian American appointed to the bench in New York.
Judge Wan then introduced the panelists for the event, opening the discussion with a brief presentation on AAPI history from Hong Yen Chang and the Chinese Exclusion Act to the present day. After the presentation, each of the panelists introduced themselves and shared their backgrounds and paths to becoming judges. Judge Wan began the panel discussion, asking the panelists about their experiences as Asian Americans at the times of their confirmations. Many of the panelists recounted how there were very few, if not any, Asian American judges when they were appointed. Judge Chen recalled how her appointment was facilitated by Obama’s attempts to diversify the federal bench, while Judge Serita recounted her experiences as the first Japanese American appointed to her court.
Judge Wan moved on to the reasons behind the underrepresentation of AAPIs in the state and federal judiciary. All of the panelists cited lack of political engagement, the lack of a pipeline, and the general tendency of Asian lawyers to seek employment at corporate law firms. Judge Chen also brought up cultural barriers, touching on how Asians tend not to promote themselves and do not seek help even when needed.
Judge Wan shifted the topic to Asian stereotypes and its effects on day-to-day legal practice. The judges all expressed how Asians are frequently lumped together, being viewed as a monolithic group. Judge Serita pointed out that the term “Asian” itself perpetuates invisibility, as it smothers the diverse experiences that individuals of different Asian cultures experience. Judge Chen also mentioned how women of color tend to face more microaggressions than men of color.
Judge Wan then asked the panelists if they had experienced any incidents of anti-Asian assault during the COVID pandemic. Judge Serita shared that during the height of the pandemic, she would wear a hat and sunglasses on the subway in order to hide her Asian identity. She also mentioned how women make up 70% of bias incident victims due to being stereotyped as meek and docile. Judge Serita also emphasized the importance of continuing the conversations about Asians and race in light of the rise in anti-Asian incidents. Judge Chen also shared a story, where an Asian female jury member had to be excused from jury duty because she feared being assaulted on the subway commute to the courthouse.
Judge Wan then directed the conversation towards the role of diversity in the judiciary. All the judges emphasized the importance of having a judiciary that reflects the diversity of the people it serves. Judge Chen also cited Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion in the Schuette v. Coalition case, pointing out how race does matter in the judiciary due to the long history of minorities being excluded in the United States.
Judge Wan then asked the panelists their thoughts on building a pipeline for Asians to enter the judiciary. All the judges expressed how important it was to reach out to the community to inspire young people to consider a public service career. Judge Chen identified a number of internships and programs for students aspiring to become judges while also noting how increasing Asian political representation in federal and state positions would afford aspiring AAPI lawyers the support needed to get through the confirmation process. Judge Chen also mentioned the role of bar associations like AABANY and the South Asian Bar Association of New York in sponsoring candidates for the bench. Judge Serita finished by encouraging young lawyers to be more proactive and to overcome Asian cultural humility.
Judge Wan moved to the topic of judicial screening panels, asking the judges their thoughts on the role of diversity on the panels. All the judges agreed on the vital role of diversity on screening panels. Judge Serita recounted one instance where an Asian woman being reviewed by the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys was given a low qualification score, due, in part, to the fact that only one out of the 30 committee members was Asian.
To close the panel, Judge Wan asked the judges if they had any advice to give to young attorneys aspiring to the bench. Judge Chen and Judge Serita both encouraged the attendees to enjoy their work, be passionate about it, but also, to not plan their careers rigidly around becoming a judge. All the judges also expressed the importance of flexibility and of keeping options open.
At the end of the event, Judge Eng shared photographs and a newspaper clipping documenting his long and distinguished career in the judiciary. Judge Wan then thanked the panelists for their time and the attendees for coming to the event.
On June 30th, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s (AABANY) Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) hosted a community workshop on self-defense and defense of others. The speakers were Nassau County Assistant District Attorney and Prosecutors Committee Co-Chair Joseb Gim and St. John’s University Law School Professor and Academic Committee Co-Chair Elaine Chiu. The presentation was moderated by Eugene Love Kim, Legal Aid Society attorney and Vice-Chair of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, and was translated into Cantonese and Mandarin by Kwok Ng, law clerk at the New York State Supreme Court and PBCS Committee Co-Chair, and Ye Qing, attorney at Morvillo Abramovitz, respectively.
In light of the recent surge in anti-Asian violence and bias incidents, the presentation focused on the legal consequences that New York Penal Law has for self-defense. ADA Gim gave a summary of the laws and listed the various weapons that qualify as “deadly physical force” under New York Penal Law. These weapons include, but are not limited to, pepper spray, collapsible batons, and electric stun guns. ADA Gim also pointed out that, in exercising self-defense, unless a “reasonable person” would have made the same decision to defend themselves in your situation, using regular physical force or deadly physical force to defend yourself may lead to you being charged with a criminal offense. Prof. Chiu briefly described the possibility of also being sued in a civil lawsuit but noted that using violence within the bounds of the New York Penal Law would prevent a judgment against you.
At the end of the presentation, ADA Gim talked about more practical, immediate implications of the laws on self-defense and defense of others. He emphasized that, oftentimes, choosing to defend yourself will result in both you and the attacker being taken into police custody from the scene for further investigation and possible prosecution. He then discussed the importance of concrete evidence, 911 calls, recordings, and eyewitness testimony in corroborating your testimony. Both ADA Gim and Prof. Chiu also noted that individuals, before defending themselves, have a duty to flee dangerous situations unless they are attacked in their own homes. After the presentation, the discussion was opened to questions from the attendees.
AABANY thanks the members of the AAVTF for organizing the community workshop and for their service to the AAPI community of the greater New York metro area. To view the recording of the event, click here. To learn more about and to help fund the AAVTF’s initiatives, click here.