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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.