On March 22, Chris Kwok testified on behalf of AABANY before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety in support of two changes to the funding of Hate Crime Units of New York District Attorneys’ Offices. These recommendations call for Hate Crime Units to be staffed with full-time prosecutors and legal support personnel, and for periodic audits by the committee to ensure their use of dedicated funds for hate crime prosecution. Chris shared that AABANY first voiced these recommendations in its report on anti-Asian violence. The report specifically identified the “Jade Squad”—a police division formed to combat Chinese gang violence in the 1970s— and concomitant Asian Gang Units that were formed at the District Attorney’s Office. In line with these successful historical efforts, AABANY now advocates for the creation of dedicated and fully funded hate crime divisions in law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices.
The AABANY report recounts numerous instances of assault and harassment against Asian Americans in New York over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Chris highlighted the persistence of such racially fueled attacks to this day. Chris also noted that media outlets, community leaders, and politicians have since backed AABANY’s proposals to fully fund and formally staff anti-hate-crime initiatives. Among these supporters, Chris identified the inspector of the NYPD Task Force and New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. In the face of unrelenting anti-Asian violence throughout the state, Chris explained that the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force and District Attorneys’ Office Hate Crime Units require dedicated funding and full-time personnel to improve their reporting structures. Only with such resources can anti-hate-crime initiatives produce reports that adequately detail the efforts of law enforcement to stem anti-Asian violence. The statement concluded with Chris’s message that fully funded and full-time Hate Crime Units are critical to encouraging the continued reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes and to fostering greater trust within the Asian American community. To read Chris’s written statement, submitted with his testimony, click here.