In the News: Board Director Chris Kwok Quoted in the Gothamist on the NYPD’s Misclassification of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in 2020

AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok was quoted in an April 12th article in the Gothamist titled “The NYPD’s Method of Counting Anti-Asian Attacks Underestimates Severity of Crisis, Critics Say.” The article summarizes the findings of a Gothamist/WNYC investigation on the New York Police Department’s response to the rise of incidents against Asian Americans in 2020. Back in March 2020, the NYPD classified incidents against Asian American New Yorkers as “anti-COVID” due to the victim’s disability status instead of labeling it as “anti-Asian hate crime” when there was clear racial invective present. The article states that in 2020, the NYPD recorded four anti-Asian hate crimes while they recorded 25 anti-COVID crimes during the same period. Out of the 25 anti-COVID crimes, 24 consisted of Asian victims. In the article, Chris stated: “That’s a poor choice — especially in light of what’s happened afterwards. If it was an African American [victim] and COVID-19, I don’t think people would readily say ‘Oh, it’s about the disability’… They’re kind of erasing that [Asian] part.” Chris also mentioned that had the NYPD seen the early 2020 crimes for their underlying racial animus, the NYPD could have addressed the rising attacks sooner.

Here are other recent news stories that have quoted Chris Kwok or mentioned AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence:

“Brutal Attack on Filipino Woman Sparks Outrage: ‘Everybody Is on Edge’” By Nicole Hong, Juliana Kim, Ali Watkins and Ashley Southall, March 30, 2021, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/nyregion/asian-attack-nyc.html

“Asian hate: Couple threatened by suspected Black man at Home Depot — ‘I’ll cut you, you f****ng Asian’” By Srivats Lakshman, March 30, 2021, MEAWW, https://meaww.com/hate-crime-new-york-city-home-depot-30-march-2021-couple-attacked 

“We need to recognize and fight against anti-Asian hatred” By Yeji Chung, April 5, 2021, The GW Hatchet, https://www.gwhatchet.com/2021/04/05/we-need-to-recognize-and-fight-against-anti-asian-hatred/ 

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19March 1March 8March 15, and March 29 highlighting news stories about our report. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.

PRESS RELEASE: MENG AND HIRONO TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO COMBAT SURGE OF ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES

This press release has been issued by the Offices of Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Mazie Hirono.

For Immediate Release: March 11, 2021

Contacts: 

  • MENG: Mark Olson, 202-819-5580
  • HIRONO: Martha Spieker, 202-365-7943

Legislation comes as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience wave of physical, verbal, and online attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Executive Board Member of CAPAC, announced their plan to reintroduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which seeks to address the ongoing hate and violence targeted toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) by providing greater assistance with law enforcement response to COVID-19 hate crimes and creating a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of such cases.

Specifically, the bill would:

  1. Designate an officer or employee of the Justice Department to facilitate expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/or local law enforcement;
  2.  Issue guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to:
    1. establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents, and to have online reporting available in multiple languages;
    2.   expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes; and
  3.  Issue guidance describing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations.

“The ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, especially against our elderly Asian Americans, is absolutely horrific. I am honored to introduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with Senator Hirono to address this disgusting pattern of hate,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Before this pandemic started, I urged everyone—including elected officials—to not blame Asian Americans for the virus. My words were not heeded. The former president and his Congressional Republican enablers trafficked racist, bigoted terms to describe COVID-19. In doing so, their language stoked people’s fears and created an atmosphere of intolerance and violence, which persists even today. Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been nearly 3,000 reported incidents of physical, verbal, and online attacks against Asian Americans. Even in my own district in Queens, New York, Asian Americans have been attacked. To combat those acts, we need DOJ to prioritize addressing these heinous acts by designating a point person for these COVID-19 related hate crimes; make it easier for victims to report crimes committed against them; and expand public education campaigns to address COVID-19 hate crimes and incidents. This must end and it is why we are working to ensure our justice system has the people and resources to effectively account for and mitigate anti-Asian hate crimes. I look forward to this bill becoming law.”

“We’ve seen the horrifying consequences of racist language as AAPI communities across our country experience hate crimes and violence related to the pandemic,” said Senator Hirono. “The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act addresses the surge in violence against AAPI communities by dedicating an official at the Department of Justice to expeditiously review hate crimes reported to law enforcement. The bill also provides resources for communities to come together and fight intolerance and hate. This is no less than victims deserve.”

“We are grateful for Senator Hirono and Representative Meng’s leadership in responding to the increased attacks on Asian Americans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “We need improvements in the reporting and handling of COVID-19-related hate crimes by law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as making systems more accessible for people with limited proficiency in English. We appreciate the emphasis on linguistically appropriate and culturally competent engagement on data collection and reporting. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC is committed to countering hate in all its forms, and we will to continue to push for a comprehensive approach to documenting and addressing hate crimes and prioritizing health and safety for all.”

“NAPABA applauds Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng for their decisive action to introduce legislation responding to the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said. A.B. Cruz, III, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). “NAPABA is committed to ensuring that hate crimes against the Asian American community are properly investigated and prosecuted. The expedited review of hate crimes reported to federal, state, and local law enforcement by the Department of Justice will increase accountability in addressing hate against our community, and establishing a platform for online reporting of hate crimes and incidents in multiple languages will allow more victims to come forward.”

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Asian American Federation Hosts Two-Part Series on Staying Safe During COVID-19 And Beyond

The Asian American Federation (AAF) will be hosting two safety trainings on how individuals can protect themselves and their communities during COVID-19.

On Friday, May 29, 2020, from 3 PM to 5 PM, AAF will be presenting on Using Nonviolent Communication During COVID-19.

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, from 3 PM to 5 PM, AAF will be exploring Using Conflict De-Escalation Strategies In Our Homes.

Register for these events at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/staying-safer-a-two-part-series-tickets-104770272706.

Asian American Federation Hosts Community Upstander Training To Stop Anti-Asian Harassment

On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, from 1 PM to 3 PM, the Asian American Federation will be hosting an Upstander Training workshop to address the ways that xenophobia and scapegoating since the COVID-19 outbreak continue to rise, most consistently against Asian communities.

Through a presentation and interactive break-out groups, participants will explore opportunities and strategies to be “upstanders” during the current moment and help disrupt this wave of anti-Asian bias through safety interventions, de-escalation tactics, and calling-in strategies.

Register for this event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-upstander-training-tickets-105204906708.

AABANY Presents Community Webinars on Anti-Asian Violence in Mandarin and Cantonese

Mandarin Webinar
Cantonese Webinar

On Saturday, May 16, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) hosted its “Mandarin and Cantonese Community Webinar on Anti-Asian Violence,” part of a broader series aimed at addressing the rise in anti-Asian violence in light of COVID-19. The events focused on briefing individuals on how to defend themselves if an incident were to occur and also discussed relevant state laws that protect victims. The Mandarin webinar aired from 2:00-3:00 PM and the Cantonese webinar aired from 3:00-4:00 PM.

Guest speakers included moderator Kwok Kei Ng and representatives from the NYPD, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR).

William Kwok, Asian Liaison of the Immigrant Outreach Unit of the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, discussed the practical measures by which individuals can protect themselves from immediate physical harm. Individuals are encouraged to run into public spaces such as stores or public spaces that may have police officers on duty. If they are able, victims are encouraged to call 911 or get bystanders to contact the police. There are translators on stand-by at the NYPD if needed. Most importantly, undocumented persons should not be afraid of calling the NYPD as officers are forbidden to inquire about a victim’s immigration status.

Additionally, Officer Kwok and Mr. Ng discussed specific provisions of the Hate Crimes laws that apply. New York Penal Law § 240.30-3 describes the elements of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, stating that the incident must reflect an intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or harm through physical force. New York Penal Law §485.05, the Hate Crime Law, enhances sentencing if the incident is proven to be bias-motivated. Victims and bystanders should be unafraid of reporting incidents to the authorities; any materials whether in the form of videos, audios, or testimonials can help secure a conviction. Officer Kwok and Mr. Ng presented in both the Mandarin and Cantonese webinars.

Lastly, Jiarui Li, an associate at Simpson Thacher and guest speaker for the Mandarin webinar, and Karen Yau, Co-Chair of the AABANY Pro Bono & Community Service Committee and guest speaker for the Cantonese webinar, discussed the various resources available to victims. Victims should contact the New York Office of Victim Services and the NYCCHR to see if they are eligible for compensation and legal assistance. Both New York City and New York State have dedicated Hate Crimes Task Forces that victims can contact. Victims residing in New Jersey or Connecticut can contact their own individual state Hate Crimes Task Forces.

The guest speakers reiterated the importance of reporting anti-Asian incidents to the police. Only by informing the relevant authorities can we adopt a preventative approach and stop bias incidents from occurring before individuals are harmed.

We thank the guest speakers for joining us and for their commitment to protecting the well-being of everyday New Yorkers. For more information on anti-Asian harassment and violence, email aabanyclinic@gmail.com or call our hotline at 516-690-7724.

AABANY Hosts Panel Addressing Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising From COVID-19 (Korean)

On Sunday, May 17, 2020, the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) hosted the Korean version of its webinar series, “Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The presentation addressed the increase in violent incidents against Asians in the community and included a discussion of the rights that victims and bystanders have when a racially motivated confrontation occurs, as well as what actions rise to the level of a prosecutable offense.

The webinar featured moderator, Sean Dong Min Rhee, a Northeastern University law student, as well as two panelists: Kings County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Pak and Naomi Jeehee Yang, an Associate at Paul Weiss.

During the presentation, Stephanie Pak explained what actions would constitute a hate crime (P.L. §240.30) and aggravated assault (P.L. §485.05) as set forth in New York Penal Law. She also gave examples of actions that would rise to a criminal level so that community members would be able to recognize incidents which they should report to law enforcement agencies or their local District Attorney’s office. Furthermore, Stephanie emphasized that when Korean victims are called Chinese during an assault, this does not invalidate the action from being prosecuted as a hate crime but rather makes the issue ripe for prosecution.

The other panelist, Naomi Jeehee Yang, shared information on who to contact during or after these incidents, as well as a few helpful tips that can help prosecutors and law enforcement. She stressed the importance of recording an incident because the evidence is often a key component in successfully prosecuting assailants. If this is not an option, it is important to call 911, as phone calls to police are recorded and can also be used as evidence during a criminal trial. Most importantly, Naomi spoke on the significance of reporting these anti-Asian episodes. If incidents are reported there will consequently be a more accurate number of cases in which Asians are being victimized in the community. This, in turn, increases the visibility of this issue and will spur action by government officials and policymakers – bringing about legislation or resources that can be helpful to the Asian community.

Thank you to our panelists, the excellent attorneys at Paul Weiss for their pro bono assistance, and our volunteers at the Pro Bono Committee for planning and organizing our Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic webinars. We will have more community presentations on topics related to COVID-19 and its impact on the AAPI community this month. For more information on anti-Asian harassment and violence, email aabanyclinic@gmail.com, call our hotline at 516-690-7724, and check out the resources that AABANY has compiled at https://www.aabany.org/page/covid19.

View the video of the webinar by clicking on the image above.

AABANY Clinic Hosts COVID-19-related Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Webinar

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association’s (AABANY) Pro Bono & Community Service Committee hosted the webinar, “Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This event addressed the increase in violent incidents against the Asian American community, and the relevant State and Federal laws for victims and witnesses of these hate crimes who seek to report them.

The webinar featured panelists David Chiang, Supervising Assistant District Attorney, Queens District Attorney’s Office; Joe Gim, Deputy Chief, Nassau County District Attorney; and Julia Kerr, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Eugene Kim, a volunteer at AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, moderated the panel.

David Chiang, Supervising Assistant District Attorney, Queens District Attorney’s Office, discussed New York Penal Law § 240 and § 485, both of which elevate sentencing for bias incidents to the criminal level. Section 240, covering Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, states that threats of physical violence based on the perception of race are considered as misdemeanors. Section 485, the Hate Crime Law, enhances sentencing for incidents proven to be motivated by bias.

Joe Gim, Deputy Bureau Chief, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, advised victims and bystanders of anti-Asian hate crimes to record the crime by taking a video of the incident with their phones or calling 911. Doing so would not only preserve the evidence necessary to strengthen the case against the perpetrator but also publicize these hateful acts to highlight the prevalence of anti-Asian violence. Even if the victim is not willing to come forward, whether due to language barriers or distrust of law enforcement, bystanders can still report the crime. After preserving evidence and notifying the police, the police will file a Complaint Report, and the case will either result in an arrest or be handed off to prosecutors and end up in trial.

Julia Kerr, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, concluded the webinar by encouraging individuals to report incidents of anti-Asian violence to both government and non-governmental organizations to prevent future hate crimes. In addition to calling 911, victims and bystanders can also reach out to the New York State and New York City Hate Crime Task Forces, MTA Hotline, local District Attorney, and NY Attorney General’s Office. Other resources include AABANY, Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Communities Against Hate, Equality Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Anti-Defamation League. 

We thank the panelists for joining us for this CLE program and Eugene for serving as the moderator. Look forward to more community presentations on COVID-19 and its impact on the APA community this month. For more information on anti-Asian harassment and violence, email aabanyclinic@gmail.com or call our hotline at 516-690-7724.

View the video of the webinar by clicking on the image above.

NYCCHR Chair and Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis’ Response to a Rise in Anti-Asian Harassment and Hate Crimes

The recent spike in Anti-Asian harassment and hate crimes have prompted a strong response by NYCCHR Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis. Encouraging New Yorkers to stand together against discrimination, she describes the history of scapegoating in times of crisis and the dangers of fearmongering. She encourages individuals to combat Asian-American stereotypes and misconceptions that underplay anti-Asian racism. With Malalis at the helm, the NYCCHR has formed a COVID-19 response team to handle reports of discrimination and harassment. She strongly encourages victims and bystanders to record and report such incidents to the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

Celebrate APA Heritage Month with AABANY

Despite the restrictions against public gatherings during COVID-19, AABANY has remained active and busy for APA Heritage Month, hosting multiple community presentations about anti-Asian harassment and violence on May 13, 16, and 17, in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean.

We will continue to celebrate APA Heritage Month during the remainder of May, and we hope you will join us at the following events. Please follow the links for further details and to register.

Wednesday, May 20
AABANY Members Invited: Lowenstein Cooks for a Cause
5:00-6:30 PM
Zoom Conference
To register: https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1379391

Thursday, May 21
AABANY Co-Sponsors: General Counsel Virtual Panel
4:30-6:00 PM
Zoom Conference
To register: https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1374410

Thursday, May 21
White & Case Presents a Virtual Screening of Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066
4:15 PM
Zoom Conference
To register: https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1379976

Wednesday, May 27
AABANY Co-Sponsors: COVID-19: Relief for Small Businesses Webinar Series Part 1 (Labor and Employment Law)
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Webinar
To register: https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1380520

Thursday, May 28
AABANY Co-Sponsors: A Virtual Trial Reenactment: Remembering the Murder of Vincent Chin
3:00-5:00 PM
To register: https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1380200

Thursday, May 28
AABANY Co-Sponsors: COVID-19: Relief for Small Businesses Webinar Series Part 2 (Restructuring and Bankruptcy Law)
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Webinar
To register: https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1380546

AABANY Hosts Webinar on Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic

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. 

Before wrapping up the CLE program, Karen King asked the attendees to consider signing up to be a part of the Community Response Task Force (CRTF), which AABANY uses to communicate with volunteers when there are pressing legal matters affecting the Asian community, including Ant-Asian Violence. Here is the link:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdumGO2c9heuQoMifYIWUdZsg3qmimijswUYmOFznXs9ROAww/viewform.   

If anyone is interested in bystander intervention training, here is the link to efforts on this front by Hollaback!:  https://www.ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/.

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.