Electeds Descend Upon Chinatown to Rally Against Hate
In the aftermath of a string of (potential) anti-Asian crimes across the city, several hundred people attended a rally as a show of support. It was held in Foley Square, not far from the incident last Thursday, in which a random attack on a Chinese man with an eight-inch kitchen knife left him clinging to life in a medically induced coma.
Under public pressure, Mayor Bill de Blasio shuttled downtown to pay the usual “stop Asian hate” and “we stand with the Asian community” lip service. However, his remarks did not include what many in the crowd had hoped – funding to staff a permanent Asian hate crimes task force.
U.S. Representative Grace Meng told the crowd that seniors were living in fear, while Attorney General Letitia James called on everyone to report any incidents of bias towards Asians to her office hotline (800-771-7755), and promised to investigate. She also declared that an attack on any Asian is an attack on her personally.
State Senator John Liu said, “We are sisters and brothers. We are moms and dads. We are daughters and sons. We are American. We are New Yorkers. We are human beings.” While all speakers denounced the hate and promoted unity, the only concrete step so far has been the establishment of a website to report biased incidents.
While this may save a trip to the local police precinct, will people actually use the tool? In personally advocating for victims to report biased incidents for years, it’s been disheartening to see such a low net increase of reports. Even after the hate crime education forums that were held in partnership with the NYPD back in 2015.
Talk of unity and standing against hate is all good, but I would think fully funding the Asian hate crimes task force with full time staff would go further. Or permanently assigning bilingual Asian police officers to the existing NYPD hate crimes task force to handle only reports of biased incidents against Asians.
Meanwhile, as I surveyed the podium on Saturday afternoon, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park’s Chinatown, and Councilman Peter Koo, who represents Flushing, were present. Noticeably absent, however, was Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the largest Chinatown district on the east coast.