Bill de Blasio was asked on Thursday why so few hate crimes charges were successfully prosecuted, and what could be done to protect the city’s ethnic minorities.
Last year there were 259 anti-Asian incidents in New York reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a group working with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – an eight-fold increase on 2019.
So far this year there have been at least 10 suspected anti-Asian hate crimes committed in New York City between January 1 and March 14, according to statistics from the New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force.
De Blasio spoke as the investigation continues into Tuesday night’s murder of eight people – six of the Asian Americans – at a series of spas and massage parlors across Atlanta.
‘If we get more reporting it will help us to find and stop this,’ said de Blasio.
Bill de Blasio on Thursday addressed the issue of anti-Asian American racism in the city
Members of the NYPD community outreach team speak to a Chinatown resident on Wednesday
‘Even if something is not a criminal case, a perpetrator being confronted by the city, whether it’s NYPD or another agency, and being told that what they’ve done was very hurtful to another person and could, if ever repeated, lead to criminal charges — that’s another important piece of the puzzle. That’s why we need these reports.’
De Blasio emphasized that it was essential that victims come forward, because it could nip problems in the bud.
‘I think it’s a reality we have to overcome, that some people experience something horrible and don’t know where to turn, or aren’t sure if they should report it,’ he said.
‘My message to all New Yorkers is please report what you see.’
New York City’s population is currently 13.95 per cent Asian American.
Protesters in Chinatown, Washington DC, protest on Wednesday night against the violence
Detective Suk Too, of the New York Police Department (NYPD) Community Affairs Rapid Response Team, checks on businesses in the Chinatown section of Manhattan on Wednesday
Detective Suk H Too hands out fliers in Chinatown explaining how to report hate crimes
Attacks on Asian Americans began increasing after the September 11 attacks, and rose further under the Trump presidency. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the incidences of racism even higher.
‘This is a problem, and let’s be blunt and honest,’ the mayor said on Thursday.
‘It’s a problem that emerged, particularly in the last four years in this city and in this country. We all know that the forces of hatred were unleashed by Donald Trump. That is not a news flash. We know more and more hate speech has occurred, more and more people who are hateful have felt emboldened.
‘We’ve got to deal with that aggressively. And part of it is to report everything, track everything and anything that might be criminal, prosecute.
‘And anything that’s not criminal, still follow up on aggressively, so people feel the presence of law enforcement in the city watching them to make sure this does not happen again.’
An Asian American Hate Crimes Task Force was launched by the NYPD in August.
De Blasio said anyone who was a victim of racist abuse should report it, even if not criminal
Last month the Asian American Bar Association of New York reported that they had seen a surge in attacks, but that had not corresponded with an increase in prosecutions.
‘We don’t know a single prosecution, either on the criminal side or civil resolution,’ said Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director and Issues Committee Chair.
‘It’s difficult to tell people that you exist. We’ll continue to do that until that’s no longer needed.’
The AABANY found that San Francisco and New York City were the two worst areas for attacks on Asian Americans.
De Blasio urged Asian Americans to come forward if they suffered abuse.
‘If you’ve been a victim of discrimination, If you’ve been a victim of a hate crime, If you’ve been a victim of violence based on who you are, we need to know about it immediately, to find those who did it and bring them to justice,’ he said.
‘We need education and outreach, but we also need consequences.
‘We need to know everything we can to find those who did it and bring them to justice.
‘Because I’m a believer that we of course need the bigger efforts, the education, the outreach, but we also need consequences.’
De Blasio said: ‘It’s perfectly appropriate for an NYPD officer to talk to them to say: ‘That was not appropriate, and if you did that on a higher level, that would be a crime.’
‘And I think that has an educating impact on people. I think it has a sobering impact that we need.’
‘I assure you, if an NYPD officer calls you or shows up at your door to ask about something you did, that makes people think twice, and we need that.’