Police in New York have created an ‘Asian Hate Crime Task Force’ following a spike in racist attacks against Asian Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic. The announcement by the NYPD comes after, between March and mid-July, more than 300 racists incidents were reported against people of Asian descent in the city.
The dedicated team of officers, which includes 25 Asian American cops, will investigate reports of anger and violence directed at Asians and Asian Americans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which President Donald Trump has blamed on China.
The President has consistently called the coronavirus the ‘kung flu’ and the ‘Chinese virus’, but despite growing criticism, Donald Trump has defended his words and insisted the phrases are not racist.
In confirming the formation of the new task force on Tuesday, New York Police Department officials said the added focus comes after the Asian American community has put pressure on police to aggressively investigate any crimes connected to the Asian hate crime.
At a news conference, Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo said: ‘The sentiment among the Asian Americans is that not enough is being done. Everyone’s saying the same thing, ‘The police don’t care, Asian American voices don’t matter’, This task force is saying otherwise.’
More than 2,300 racist incidents were reported between late March and mid-July in the U.S., including 316 reports in New York, according to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council. However that figure is significantly higher than the 21 crimes police have had reported to them since March 21, according to Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.
He has blamed ‘language barriers, cultural differences and a fear of the police’ for a lapse in a positive relationship between the police and the Asian community in New York, and hopes the new task force will pave the way for better outcomes.
The latest incidents of anti-Asian hate crime include an attack on a 89-year-old woman who was slapped and had her shirt set on fire in Brooklyn last month, and another woman who was the subjected to anti-Asian abuse on the subway.
New Yorker, Pei Jung Lee, was verbally attacked whilst riding the subway on August 11 by a man who shouted at her to ‘go back to her country’ and that she was the reason for ‘kung-flu’. Pei, who is originally from Taiwan and has lived in New York for 16 years, told NBC New York she ‘cried for an hour’ when she got home following the incident and now fears traveling alone on the subway.
She posted a video of the shocking incident on Twitter to raise awareness of the incident and highlight the need for action. The NYPD has launched an investigation into the incident.
New York city is regarded as one of the worst hit areas in the world by coronavirus having recorded more than 235,000 confirmed cases and 23,643 confirmed deaths. In recent weeks, however, the spread of the virus has slowed dramatically with only 626 new cases reported across the whole state on New York yesterday.
The Asian American Bar Association of New York has put together resources to help Asian Americans report hate crimes if they need to. Click here for more information.
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