Among 233 reported attacks against Asian Americans in New York City in the first three quarters of 2021, only seven have so far led to hate crime convictions, according to a new report from the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY).
AABANY analyzed NYPD data and records from the New York court system in their analysis. Of the 233 incidents they counted, 91 led to an arrest. Of the 91 arrests, 41 were charged as hate crimes by local prosecutors and of the 41, seven ended up with a disposition of guilt to a hate crime charge, Elaine Chiu, Professor of Law at St. John’s University said at a press conference Tuesday.
At least 20 of the arrest cases are still pending, Chiu said. She added that they also used data from the New York City Mayor’s office and news reports from “traditional media” in their report, though no specific media outlets were named. The AABANY analysis differs from the NYPD’s tally, which counted 118 anti-Asian hate crime reports over the same time period in 2021. However, the number of hate crimes reported to police are likely an undercount of the true total, with some experts estimating that more than half of all hate crimes go unreported.
Chiu also stated that out of all the boroughs in New York City, their analysis showed that most reported anti-Asian incidents were in midtown Manhattan, with around 55% of the incidents involving a female victim. The highest percentage of AAPI victims fell approximately between the ages of 29 and 49, Chiu added.
Former United States Attorney Loretta Lynch joined representatives from AABANY at their press conference, calling the recent attacks against Asian Americans “an endless tide of anti-Asian violence that we’ve seen across our city.”
“That is the nature of hate crimes – they spur copycats, they spawn further actions of violence, they lead to desensitization of the basic humanity that we all share. And they make our world, our country, our city less safe for everyone,” Lynch said. “It may be part of us, but we are better than this. We can make people safe. We can make people safe feel welcome in their communities. We can give them peace and security and we can eliminate this hate that is based on nothing more than a distinction without a difference.”
New York State Assemblymember Ron Kim and New York State Sen. John Liu were also among Tuesday’s speakers. Kim noted that the fight against anti-Asian hate also needs to include “some tough conversations about how to overcome the economic injustices that pit communities of color against each other.”
“We also need to continue to focus on, ‘what are some of the long-term solutions’ and have some uncomfortable discussions around economic injustice around communities of color and immigrants, and the reason why every time we have a social or economic or health down turn, Asians are always pitted against Black and brown communities,” Kim said. “That’s something that will break the cycle of violence, in addition to the legislative, legal fixes that we must implement now.”
The AABANY report also states that from March 2020 to December 2021, 10,905 hate incidents were reported to “Stop AAPI Hate,” a nonprofit organization that tracks self-reported incidents of anti-AAPI discrimination and hate, with 4,632 reported in 2020 and 6,273 in 2021. The report also noted that the NYPD reported 361% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in NYC from 2020 to 2021.
Chris Kwok, an AABANY board member and Co-Executive editor of the report outlined nine recommendations that the group is putting forward as a starting point to address the increased hate incidents:
- improve public hate crime data reporting
- recognize the community as victim and investigative partner
- develop better guidance for hate crime investigations
- reform the hate crimes law
- fully fund the study, prevention, and prosecution of hate crimes
- develop anti-bias programming, training in cultural sensitivity, and trauma-assisted counseling
- remedy barriers to reporting of hate incidents
- improve investigative training and tools available to government agencies
- revisit bail reform
“We felt that in an unprecedented era of anti-Asian violence, it was still very difficult for there to be justice and accountability,” Kwok said, adding that cultural and linguistic barriers may contribute to the difficulty. “Right now, part of the hate crime law says that it must be whole, or in substantial part motivated by a person’s race. We think that presents an obstacle to DA’s. We want to make it easier that the hate element can be one part of it.”
Kwok added that AABANY supports the motivation behind bail reform, such that people should not have to spend time behind bars due to their socioeconomic status, but said “further conversations” could be held, perhaps to make hate crimes ineligible for bail.
“What we heard as a recurring theme was the invisibility that Asian Americans felt before the law,” he said. “We think there is a long history of that invisibility, that Asian Americans feel invisible, but there is a reason for that. It’s not just by happenstance. There is a legal history, there is an affirmative history and we want to call that out…We don’t think there’s active hate like, ‘we’re going to ignore you,’ but it just doesn’t exist within the mind of some of the people who are implementing the law.”
Tuesday’s report is the second report on anti-Asian violence published by AABANY. The first was completed in February 2021, according to Yang Chen, the organization’s Executive Director.