NAPABA Launches New Anti-Bullying Resources for Lawyers & Families

COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the mental health concerns of children and the epidemic of bullying impacting K-12 students across the country. As attorneys, NAPABA members are often asked to serve as a resource for those in need. 
 
ANTI-BULLYING RESOURCE GUIDE
For lawyers, we have created a guide on responding to acts of bullying and harassment in K-12 schools. This guide and accompanying CLE webinar will provide you with model responses and a guide to working with impacted families. We thank our partners at the American Arbitration Association/International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation (AAA/ICDR Foundation) for their support of this project. We thank the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, the Asian American Psychological Association, Act to Change, and the Sikh Coalition for offering their resources and guidance. 

Download the Guide here.

IN-LANGUAGE ANTI-BULLYING POSTERS
For students and families, we have created a multilingual poster on how to recognize and navigate the impacts of bullying. You can share this resource in your local community, with impacted families and students, and clients. This project was created in partnership with the Asian Pacific Islander Health Forum (APIAHF).  

Download the Toolkit here.

COVID-19 Rapid Needs Assessment Survey Now Available In Multiple Languages

Survey participation needed to better understand community needs during the pandemic.

NAPABA has partnered with the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) and the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health (CSAAH) to conduct a survey to learn more about the ongoing experiences and needs of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders living in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Input from this survey will help develop resources and programs to support these communities. You can take the survey here and it will remain open until 1,000 responses are collected. 

Take Survey

Purpose of the survey: We are trying to learn more about the current and ongoing experiences and needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Eligibility: (a) aged 18 or above; (b) self-identify as a(n) Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander; and (c) be a person living in the United States. 

Survey languages now available: English, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Chuukese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Marshallese, Native Hawaiian, Nepali, Punjabi, Samoan, Tagalog, Tongan, Urdu, Vietnamese. 

You will receive an Amazon gift card as a token of thanks for your participation after the survey has been completed. If you are interested in receiving the gift card, you will be asked to complete a short form at the end of the survey link. No survey information will be linked with your personal information.

If you have already taken this survey, please share with those who are eligible. If you have questions or concerns about the study, please reach out to Navdeep Singh, Interim Policy Director, at policy@napaba.org. Feel free to share this link with your family and friends, but we ask that you refrain from posting on your social media. 

NAPABA COVID-19 Rapid Needs Assessment

Survey participation needed to better understand community needs during the pandemic

NAPABA has partnered with the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) and the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health (CSAAH) to conduct a survey to learn more about the ongoing experiences and needs of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders living in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Input from this survey will help develop resources and programs to support these communities. You can take the survey here and it will remain open until 1,000 responses are collected. 

Purpose of the survey: We are trying to learn more about the current and ongoing experiences and needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility: (a) aged 18 or above; (b) self-identify as a(n) Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander; and (c) be a person living in the United States.

Survey languages available: Currently the survey is available in English. Languages coming soon: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Chuukese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Marshallese, Native Hawaiian, Nepali, Punjabi, Samoan, Tagalog, Tongan, Urdu, Vietnamese.

You will receive an Amazon gift card as a token of thanks for your participation after the survey has been completed. If you are interested in receiving the gift card, you will be asked to complete a short form at the end of the survey link. No survey information will be linked with your personal information.

If you have questions or concerns about the study, please reach out to Navdeep Singh, Interim Policy Director, at policy@napaba.org. Feel free to share this link with your family and friends, but we ask that you refrain from posting on your social media.

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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.

AABANY Receives the NYSBA Bar Leaders Innovation Award for its Anti-Asian Violence Report

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. 

In the Large Bar Association category, AABANY received an award in recognition of the report A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence Against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19. AABANY president, Terry Shen, and Executive Director, Yang Chen, accepted the award. 

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.

PBCS Pro Bono Clinic In Collaboration With AAFE – 11/06/2021

AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee would like to thank the remote and in-person volunteers who assisted at the Manhattan Chinatown pro bono clinic.  This was the first pro bono clinic to take place at the 2 Allen Street, Manhattan location of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE).  PBCS and AABANY would like to thank AAFE for their co-sponsorship.  

Fourteen attorneys, non-attorneys, and interpreter volunteers provided 20 clients with legal information and consultation services.  Volunteers performed these services in a wide variety of languages and dialects- including Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Taishanese, and Fujianese- reflecting the ability of the pro bono clinic to meet the unique needs of NYC’s Chinatown community.

A substantial number of consultations pertained to housing issues, which remain relevant amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many clients were informed of their legal rights and choices as tenants.  In one instance, a client, who is a tenant in rent-stabilized housing, discovered that landlords of rent-stabilized units could not arbitrarily raise the rent of such units for “maintenance-related issues” without the permission of the Homes and Community Renewal agency of New York.  The client also discovered that they were provided with a rental lease that was not authorized for use in rent-stabilized housing units.    

To learn more about PBCS, please click here.  

We would once again like to thank the pro bono clinic volunteers for their dedication and support, which make the work of the clinic possible.  Everyone is encouraged to sign up to volunteer below:

To volunteer at AAFE’s Clinics (Queens and Manhattan) – https://airtable.com/shrtPeVTibQA9qNgD  
To volunteer at CCBA’s Clinics (Manhattan) – https://airtable.com/shrQFecVpU1u5ltAy

Thank you to ALL of our 11/6 volunteers:

AABANYAAFE
Aaron Fong ^Gabriel Hisugan *
Estelle Lu ^*Ivy Au ^
Eugene KimVicky Qiu ^
Johnny ThachYini Fang ^
Judy (Ming Chu) Lee
Karen Kithan Yau *
Kendall Park ^*
Kensing Ng
Kwok Ng
Megan Gao

^ = non-attorney volunteers
* = remote volunteers

Student Outreach Committee, Pro Bono Committee & AABANY Volunteers Promote Pro Bono Legal Clinic, Know Your Rights Resources, and AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service in Asian and Asian American Communities

On Saturday, September 4, 2021, the Student Outreach Committee and the Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) returned to Asian and Asian American communities across New York City to promote PBCS’s newly-back in person Pro Bono Clinic and AABANY’s COVID-19 Legal Know-Your-Rights Resources as well as AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS). 

The Brooklyn Chinatown volunteers were led by May Wong, Judy Lee and Kwok Ng of the PBCS Committee, the Koreatown volunteers were led by Victor Roh and Will Lee, a key leader and organizer of last year’s event, and the Manhattan Chinatown volunteers were led by Nicholas Loh and Dianna Lam, another key leader and organizer of last year’s event.

This campaign built off the energy and momentum of the initial flyering campaign held last year over the July 4 holiday weekend, during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  This year’s campaign saw the addition of another community, Brooklyn Chinatown, and included over 40 volunteers from AABANY and law schools across the Greater New York area.

The results were impressive. Over 1,000 flyers in Chinese, Korean and English were distributed to local small businesses promoting AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, Know-Your-Rights information, and the LRIS. Our student volunteers had meaningful opportunities to interact with small business owners who have been hit hard by a staggering two years of anti-Asian hate and violence, COVID-19 business disruptions, and the devastating impact on Asian businesses as a result of xenophobia and racism. 

This event would not have been possible without the co-sponsorship of AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee, AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, AABANY’s Young Lawyers Committee, Asian Americans for Equality, APALSAs from all across the Greater New York area and Mayer Brown.

Read more about AABANY’s PBCS Committee and Pro Bono Clinic, about AABANY’s LRIS service here, HEART here, and Know Your Rights info here. Thanks to all the organizers, co-sponsors, and — especially — all the student volunteers.

In the News: Board Director Chris Kwok Interviewed on The Debrief

On June 11, AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok was interviewed by Erica Byfield on News 4 The Debrief podcast for an episode titled “Anti-Asian Attacks and Relations With the Black Community.” In the episode, they talked about the ongoing hate and violence against Asian Americans across the United States and the longstanding history of society’s treatment of non-whites in America. Chris spoke about how fighting anti-Asian violence is connected to the Black Lives Matter and Me Too Movements because people are fighting for the same things—an equal, just society and an equal chance to be human. However, at the same time, people need to understand how race operates differently between Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans. Chris states, “Having these conversations in public, honestly, with people who know what they’re talking about, and who are sensitive to these topics, empathetic to people’s experiences, knowledgeable about our histories, about how they are intertwined, how they can be used against us, how we can then turn it around and use it for good. If we‘re able to sort of look at it square in the face is, I think, the way forward. There’s no other way.” In addition, Chris discussed the importance of following up with District Attorney’s Offices in New York City to ensure that hate crimes are addressed and perpetrators are held accountable. To listen to the full podcast, click here.

AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence was also recently cited in a June 15 Indonesian article on alinea.id about the naming of viruses and diseases including Covid-19. The article discusses the increase of discrimination against Asian Americans in the U.S. after the widespread labeling of Covid-19 as the “Wuhan virus” and “Chinese virus” by former U.S. President Trump.

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19, March 1, March 8, March 15, March 29, May 10, and May 17 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.

AABANY Co-Sponsors a CLE Program about Anti-Asian Violence and Steps Lawyers Can Take to Combat the Issue on May 26

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.

AABANY AAVTF Holds a Briefing on Anti-Asian Violence on May 25

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.

NAPABA Statement on DOJ’s Guidance on Improving the Department’s Efforts to Combat Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents

For Immediate Release: Date: May 27, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued guidance to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on “Improving the Department’s Efforts to Combat Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents.”  The guidance implements the DOJ’s obligations under the newly enacted COVID-19 Hate Crimes law.

As part of today’s announcement, Attorney General Garland stated that the DOJ will, amongst other activities:

  • Designate the Chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section to expedite review of hate crimes allegations brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Appoint a Deputy Associate Attorney General to serve as coordinator for DOJ’s anti-hate crime and hate incident resources.  That coordinator will also be a central hub for law enforcement and community stakeholders on relevant training and outreach materials. 
  • Encourage all U.S. Attorneys Offices to designate both a criminal and civil Assistant U.S. Attorney to serve as Civil Rights Coordinators in every judicial district.
  • Create district alliances of between federal, state, and local law enforcement, against hate, where feasible.
  • Establish a position of Language Access Coordinator for the Department. 

NAPABA is already working in several of these areas. NAPABA has, in partnership with APIA Health Forum, created Combat Hate Crimes Toolkits in 25 different AA NHPI languages on how to identify and report hate crimes.

Language equity and access has been a priority of NAPABA for decades.  NAPABA encourages the Coordinator to draw on NAPABA’s Language Access Project and its groundbreaking report on linguistic equity for Asian Pacific Americans navigating the justice system.

To report a hate crime, contact local law enforcement or your nearest FBI field office, or visit: https://www.napaba.org/page/ReportaHateCrime

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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.