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.
AABANY’s Manhattan DA Candidates’ Forum held on June 15 and 16 was recently covered in a June 21 Law360 article titled “Manhattan DA Candidates Split Over Hate Crime Strategy.” In the run up to the primary election on June 22, AABANY posed questions to seven Democratic candidates (Tahanie Aboushi, Alvin Bragg, Liz Crotty, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, Diana Florence, Lucy Lang, and Eliza Orlins) and one Republican candidate (Thomas Kenniff) on issues important to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, specifically related to how they would address the surge in anti-Asian violence in New York City. Most of the candidates stated that they would use enhancements to charge perpetrators of hate crimes. In addition, most of the candidates supported creating a hate crimes unit in the DA’s Office, which is one of the proposals offered in AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ report on anti-Asian violence. Only Tahanie Aboushi and Eliza Orlins pledged they would cut the district attorney’s office budget in half. By decreasing the prosecution of low-level offenses, Aboushi and Orlins said the office would be able to focus on more serious crimes, including hate crimes that involve violence. The Law360 article also incorporated Democratic DA Candidate Dan Quart’s stances on the questions posed at the Forum as he was not able to participate due to a prior engagement.
To read the full article, click here. To view the recordings of AABANY’s Manhattan DA Candidates’ Forum, click here for day 1 (Lucy Lang, Alvin Bragg, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, and Tahanie Aboushi) and here for day 2 (Diana Florence, Thomas Kenniff, Eliza Orlins, and Liz Crotty).
On May 26, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), along with the New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) and the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), hosted a CLE program about the rise in anti-Asian violence during the past year. Karen King, AABANY Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee Co-Chair welcomed the attendees. Bret Parker, the Executive Director of the New York City Bar Association introduced the program and gave his thanks to the organizers of the event as well. Karen Kithan Yau, AABANY Board Director and the moderator for the event, introduced the program’s panelists: PBCS Committee Co-Chair and Morvillo Abramowitz Partner Karen King; AABANY Board Director, Issues Committee Co-Chair, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair and JAMS Mediator Chris Kwok; Girls Rule the Law founder Mirna Santiago; Kings County DA Office Bureau Chief Kin Ng; and Legal Aid Society Cop Accountability Project attorney Jennvine Wong.
Karen King and Chris began the presentation for the event. Karen first discussed the origins of anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining that anti-Asian bias incidents began very early on in the pandemic. The number of incidents only tapered off due to the stay-at-home orders, before increasing once again after President Trump’s inflammatory statements blaming Asians for the outbreak. Chris also pointed out that the New York Police Department (NYPD) often neglected to fully investigate the earliest occurrences of anti-Asian hate, regarding them as minor incidents. He also presented a brief history of anti-Asian violence, beginning with the Chinese massacre of 1871 which immunized violence against Asians and ending with the Vincent Chin case. Karen then discussed the causes of the violence against Asians. She explained that societal stress, inaccurate information, underreporting, lack of cultural awareness of the discrimination that Asians face, and prosecution’s tendency to not pursue hate crime enhancements all contributed to the increase in anti-Asian incidents. Chris also noted that the NYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force not only lacks funding, but that its members are already assigned to other departments in the NYPD and serve on the Task Force on a volunteer basis. The Black Lives Matter and the Defund the Police movements also eclipsed the issue of anti-Asian violence through the end of 2020. Karen explained that AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence was written to document this issue and keep it in the public eye.
After the presentation, Karen Yau opened the conversation to the rest of the panelists. She began by addressing Mirna, asking her what it meant to be an ally. Mirna explained that the feeling of “otherness” is something that all minority groups face. She also emphasized the need to break away from tit-for-tat allyship and to build a trans-racial coalition united to fight against racism and hate.
Karen then turned to Kin and asked about the reasons why any hate crimes had yet to be successfully prosecuted. Kin explained that unlike other crimes, law enforcement must not only prove that the perpetrator committed the crime, but also must prove that the perpetrator was motivated by racist sentiments. This process is often lengthy and requires a great deal of investigation. Kin also pointed out that acquiring evidence of hate speech can be prevented by the victim’s inability to understand English. He acknowledged how frustrating the process was, but also encouraged the attendees to report any incidents, as establishing a pattern aids the prosecution of hate crimes.
Karen then followed up by asking how prosecutors dealt with the difficulties of investigating hate crimes. Kin explained that establishing trust between the District Attorney’s Office and people in the community is instrumental in acquiring evidence. He also pointed out that more funding and employing more bilingual individuals to act as a liaison between the DA’s Office and the community would aid prosecution immensely.
Karen then turned to the issue of over-incarceration. Addressing Jennvine, Karen asked her thoughts about combating anti-Asian incidents without turning to incarceration. Jennvine acknowledged the issue, emphasizing how hate crime enhancements disproportionately affect other minorities who are already overrepresented in the prison system. She also asserted that criminalization would obscure the root cause of the violence, white supremacy. Rather than buy into the media’s false narrative of blacks versus Asians, Jennvine explained that many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are subjected to violence because they are trapped in poverty and living in unsafe neighborhoods. Jennvine concluded by contending that turning to the NYPD would not offer a viable long-term solution.
Karen then returned to Kin, asking if the new discovery laws had any effect on the prosecution of hate crimes. Kin explained that the new laws would allow the alleged perpetrator’s defense attorney to call witnesses in their homes because the defense is entitled to interview witnesses. This change has resulted in some individuals being less willing to testify, making underreporting more severe.
Karen then moved the conversation to bail reform. She described one incident where, due to the pandemic, the alleged perpetrator of a bias incident was not put on trial and walked free without an order of protection for the alleged victim for several months before going to court. Jennvine responded by emphasizing the importance of bail reform and how previous bail laws only gave victims a false sense of security. She also pointed out that orders of protection are typically granted and also tend to only give protection in name. Kin also noted that the large gap between the report of the incident and the court date was due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic. The absence of an order of protection was due to the lack of a court hearing until the later date.
Karen then addressed Chris, asking about his experiences in speaking with the media. Chris explained that when the report was published in February of 2021, mass media was not aware of the basic facts about anti-Asian violence. When the media coverage began to recede in March, the Atlanta shootings gave new gravity to the situation, though much of the nuance about the issue was lost in the popular narrative which pits blacks against Asians. Nonetheless, Chris also noted that the attention Asians have received in the media is unprecedented.
Karen then turned back to Mirna, asking to what degree the conflict between Asians and blacks is real. Mirna emphasized the need to educate others and to reconsider our own bias when being an ally. She also highlighted Grace Lee Boggs, an Asian woman who was extremely active in the fight for black civil rights in the 1960s. She closed by reiterating the need for listening and empathy across communities.
Karen then inquired about the importance of symbols, such as swastikas, in prosecuting hate crimes. Kin responded that since Asian cultures are extremely diverse, finding a single symbol that could be employed as a hate symbol against Asians would be difficult. Kin also reiterated that the police’s ability to prove a connection between race and the crime depends largely on the amount of effort the police are willing to put into the investigation.
Karen’s final question was about the possibility of a program where alleged perpetrators could receive counseling from victims. Karen King disagreed, questioning its practicality, but supported counseling perpetrators. Mirna concurred, stating that it should never be the burden of the victims to help their perpetrators. Chris also emphasized the importance of education and cultural competency in combating racism and building solidarity.
Kin and Chris then closed the panel discussion by reemphasizing the need for reporting incidents, as the issue of anti-Asian violence would remain invisible unless victims and witnesses stepped forward to bring the issue into the spotlight.
The President of the NYSBA, Scott Karson, concluded the event by thanking the organizers, panelists, and attendees for participating in the event, and reiterated NYSBA’s solidarity with the Asian community. Karen Yau also encouraged attendees to volunteer for AABANY’s Hate Eradication Active Response Team (HEART), an initiative which would allow volunteers to connect community members who had experienced a bias incident with legal and mental health resources.
To learn more about the HEART initiative click here. To view the full video of the program, click here.
On May 25, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) hosted an information briefing about the AAVTF’s activities and about the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers for the event were AABANY President Terry Shen; Board Director, Issues Committee Co-Chair and Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair Chris Kwok; Board Director and past Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee Co-Chair Karen Yau; PBCS Committee Co-Chair Karen King; Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair Joseb Gim; and Executive Director Yang Chen.
Chris and President Shen gave the opening remarks, introducing the event, and thanking all the attendees for coming.
After these remarks, Chris began the presentation, explaining how the publicity about anti-Asian violence generated in mainstream media has suddenly catapulted Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) into the public consciousness. Unlike before, Asians are now viewed as a group that experiences discrimination and violence, just like any other minority. Chris explained that these realizations politically empower AAPIs to make change in the political system as Asians become more aware about race and the ways in which it affects them. The AAPI identity has also been recreated through artwork, publications, and other initiatives. Asian non-profits have also begun receiving a large influx of donations that have great potential to aid the AAPI community. Chris also discussed the history of AABANY’s report and how Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about the virus incited a wave of anti-Asian hate and violence during early 2020. These events culminated in the report’s publication in February 2021. Karen then discussed the report’s publication process which involved the feedback and support of bar associations, law firms and other organizations. The subsequent publicity generated by the report was cemented by the anti-Asian shootings in Atlanta. Ever since, Karen explained, AABANY has frequently been requested to speak at numerous events and on many media outlets. Many initiatives proposed by the report have also since been implemented.
Yang then went on to discuss the genesis of the AAVTF, made up of members of the Academic Committee, Issues Committee, Legal Referral and Information Services (LRIS) Committee, PBCS Committee, Prosecutors Committee, and Student Outreach Committee as well as Immediate Past President Sapna Palla, President Shen, and President-Elect Will Ng. Yang also explained how the AAVTF was founded to realize the goals outlined in the report, focusing on three prongs of action: education/communication, research, and advocacy. Ever since, the AAVTF has pressed for hate crime prosecutions in DA Offices, published Know Your Rights Brochures for community members on what to do if they face an anti-Asian bias incident or hate crime, organized speaking engagements, begun data tracking for incidents, formed the Hate Eradication Active Response Team (HEART), and much more to raise awareness and combat anti-Asian violence.
Joe Gim, prosecutor and the Chief of the new Hate Crimes Bureau at the Nassau County DA Office next discussed the role of the Prosecutors’ Committee in the AAVTF, which was primarily to shed light on criminal statutes and on the gaps between law enforcement’s understanding and implementation of these statutes. This information, Joe explained, is used to strengthen AABANY’s initiatives and advocacy efforts.
Chris affirmed this statement, reiterating his thanks to the AAVTF and the indispensable support it provides in leading the conversation about anti-Asian violence. Chris also pointed out that any movements that fight back against hate, regardless of which group is targeted, are fighting against a common enemy of structural racism.
Yang and Karen Yau went on to promote the Turning the Tide (T3) Project, which is hosted at the Asian American Law Fund of New York (AALFNY) to raise money for the AAVTF’s initiatives, research, and advocacy combating anti-Asian hate and violence. Karen King also gave a special shoutout to the HEART initiative, encouraging the attendees to volunteer their time to help connect victims of anti-Asian violence with legal aid and other resources. She also encouraged attendees to involve their law firms as sponsors for projects and events.
Chris then closed the presentation by pointing out how the police’s lackluster response to hate crimes is in part due to the historical invisibility of the AAPI community. He also explained how this invisibility has its roots in the 1853 People v. Hall case where George Hall, a white man, was convicted but then released after murdering a Chinese miner. Chris explained how Hall appealed his release on the basis of a California statute which prevented people of color from testifying against whites. Chris also emphasized that supporting the Black Lives Matter movement does not detract from support for the AAPI cause. To illustrate the importance of building a multi-racial coalition, Chris recounted an interview he had with the celebrated documentary director Spike Lee for his film about New York City and race that will be released in September 2021. Lee explained that he had chosen to interview Chris because “people were asking where the Asians were. And I listened.”
After the presentations, the discussion was opened to the attendees for a question and answer session.
Karen Lin, PBCS Committee Co-Chair asked whether or not AABANY would advocate for including AAPI history in the public school curriculum. Yang answered by reiterating AABANY’s support of any educational initiatives, pointing to AABANY’s trial reenactments project as an example.
AABANY member Jennifer Luo then pointed the discussion towards the lack of successful hate crime prosecutions. Joe explained that law enforcement currently lacks sufficient resources and infrastructure to investigate hate crimes. As hate crimes are unique in that the prosecutor must prove that the perpetrator was motivated to commit the crime due to racial bias, this process requires more investigation and information which the police currently lacks. To address this issue, Joe also proposed creating a database of hate crimes and bias incidents that would allow law enforcement to easily access information and also to enable community members to report incidents more efficiently. He also mentioned the newly minted COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would allocate funding towards combating hate crimes. Chris also added that AABANY is planning a Candidates’ Forum that would give AABANY and its members an opportunity to ask about measures being considered to protect the AAPI community from violence.
David Ahn then asked about AABANY’s plans to monitor hate crimes going forward. Chris answered by citing AABANY’s involvement in a case in Flushing, Queens where the perpetrator, despite revealing his racist sentiments in a text sent to the New York Times, was not charged with a hate crime. After AABANY’s advocacy in the DA’s Office, the perpetrator was charged with a hate crime. Chris also added that, though not every case would lead to a hate crime enhancement, AABANY is continuing to monitor the news and other outlets for advocacy opportunities. Yang also explained that the HEART initiative would help AABANY keep track of the incidents, connect with the community, and improve AABANY’s advocacy efforts. Karen Yau also pointed out that there are other alternatives to criminal prosecutions that victims would be able to pursue if they wished.
Chris then shared his own experiences with anti-Asian violence growing up, recounting a story where his friends were assaulted by a white supremacist gang while exiting a movie theater in Queens. He also described his efforts to reconnect with them hoping to preserve their stories and voices as a part of the history of anti-Asian violence.
AABANY Treasurer William Hao also discussed his own involvement in the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings while on a call with former U.S. Attorney Byung J. (“BJay”) Pak, the FBI, and local law enforcement. Will shared that even though the media had severely twisted the narrative by promoting the perpetrator’s claim that he had not been motivated by racism, the call served to give Asians a voice in revealing the truth of the events and reshaping the story. Will concluded by emphasizing the importance of AAPI representation in government and law enforcement.
Marilyn Go (USMJ EDNY, ret’d) then asked about AABANY’s ability to speak out during majority political forums. Chris answered by pointing out the difficulty of entering majority forums, but also noted that events recorded on Zoom would allow AABANY to hold candidates accountable for their words. Yang also referenced the City Council District One Candidates’ Forum which did take questions from AABANY regarding the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. Jennifer then asked about the possibility of keeping a record of candidates’ responses regarding issues of anti-Asian violence. Chris responded that AABANY’s future plans to hold a Manhattan DA Candidates’ forum would allow AABANY to record responses from the candidates on that issue.
AABANY thanks all of the attendees for their time and their commitment to serving the AAPI community. To view the recording of the event, click here.
On May 20, 2021, City & State published an Op-Ed written by President Terry Shen and Past President Linda Lin of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.
In the Op-Ed, President Shen and Past President Lin describe how a wave of Anti-Asian violence swept across New York City in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and how the city government’s lackluster response to these incidents has not been enough to protect the AAPI community. According to the article, stronger Asian-American representation in New York’s courts can help to solve these issues. The article also highlights Kathy Hirata Chin, the only Asian-American candidate for the New York Court of Appeals, arguing that her appointment would be a landmark step towards greater racial diversity, justice, and equity. As stated by President Shen and Past President Lin: “Our government must be diverse to fulfill Lincoln’s vision of a nation ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ The need in our city and state is urgent and necessary.”
Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden signed into the law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) in the House. This legislation requires that the U.S. Department of Justice designate a point person whose sole responsibility is to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic and to expand public education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes. The Justice Department shall also issue guidance on greater accessibility for online hate crimes reporting for victims in multiple languages and for those with disabilities. The law also incorporates the Jabara-Heyer No HATE ACT Act which increases resources for training on identifying and classifying hate crimes.
“NAPABA thanks President Biden for signing into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which answers the call for greater resources to improve education, training, reporting, and data collection on hate crimes in this country,” said NAPABA President A.B. Cruz III. “This law is a strong step forward to stem the ongoing tide of anti-Asian hate, bias and violence.”
The legislation also authorizes grants for states to create state-run hate crimes reporting hotlines and crime reduction programs to prevent, address, or respond to hate crimes. Finally, for individuals convicted of federal hate crime offenses and placed on supervised release, the bill allows a court to order that the individual participate in educational classes or community service directly related to the community harmed by the defendant’s offense, as a condition of supervised release.
In response to the surge in attacks against Asian Americans in the wake of the pandemic, NAPABA in partnership with the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) have produced a hate crimes reporting toolkit – translated into 25 languages and English – the single largest collection of such different AAPI-language materials assembled, that provides basic and critical information for victims, community based organizations, and community leaders.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill was introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in the Senate, and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) in the House. The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act was introduced by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL). NAPABA thanks them for their leadership.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) in the largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession.