By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews New York Correspondent
The NYC chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and the Chinese Freemasons recently presented a hate crime forum at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The forum was held to address the growing concern of crimes against Asians and other people of color.
According to NYPD’s annual Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York report released early this year, there has been an increase of Asian American victims of felony sex crimes from 2.1% to 5.5%. That is over a fifty percent increase between 2008-2014.
That concern prompted Representatives Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Nydia Velasquez (D-Brooklyn) to write to NYPD Police Commission William Bratton urging him to find ways to address the alarming increase and to recruit more Asian American police officers to fairly represent the Asian American population in the city.
“We have faced in almost every community of color, people are afraid of reporting when a hate crime is committed. We have to make sure that the people understand in our community it takes a lot of us working together to eradicate hate crime,” said Velasquez.
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In the last year, crimes against Asians have been noticeable. Asian women were being attacked in the Lower East Side and a Asian female student and playwright David Henry Hwang were both slashed from behind with nothing taken. There was also a robber dubbed the “Citibike robber” in the Lower East Side who grabbed items from Asian victims and rode off. The attacker on Asian women subsquently committed suicide and the cases are still open on the slashing of the Asian female student and Hwang. The “Citibike robber” remains on the loose.
Some Asian Americans believe they are targeted because they are easy prey and reluctant to report crimes due to language barriers, but interpreters are available according Deputy Inspector Mark Magrone.
What frustrates the NYPD and many politicians is the underreporting of hate crimes by victims. When the crime is not reported, it gives the NYPD a false sense that hate crime is not occurring in the community. If a hate crime is reported, it allows the NYPD to statistically track the number of hate crimes and the pattern.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-New York) said, “We’ve seen a pattern of attacks against Asian Americans and many of the crimes do not get reported. Many of them do not get classified as hate crimes. Part of the mission of the NYPD efforts is to explain what makes it a hate crime.”In 2015 there were 309 cases of hate crime versus 302 cases in 2014. The majority of them took place in Brooklyn. Velasquez said she and Congressman Steve Israel (D-Long Island) has proposed to create a national hotline for victims.
Inspector Magrone’s presentation explained what is a hate crime and how it can be reported. He said hate crimes could be hard to determine if nothing was said to the victim. A more thorough interview with the victim and accessing the incident will help determine if it is.
Under the definition of the NYPD, a hate crime is when someone who “intentionally selects the person against whom the offense is committed in who or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless or whether the belief or perception is correct or not.”
The inspector said the NYPD does offer bilingual assistance, but none is available if someone calls the hate crime task force right now. The Task Force, however, is set up so victims will “get somebody quickly”. He also said there are efforts to increase diversity in the NYPD to serve in ethnic communities.
What hate crime have you been a victim of?
If you did not report it, why?
How do you want your community to react to hate crimes?
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