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NYC Officials Call Hearing to Address Rise in Hate Crimes Against Asians

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: May 4, 2022
Julie Tran holds her phone during a candlelight vigil in Garden Grove, California, on March 17, 2021 to protest against the recent spike of violence targeting people of Asian descent. (Image: APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

Anti-Asian hate crimes across the U.S. are rising at rates unseen before 

Although the city reported a decrease in murders, major crimes is up by 41.6 percent, with a mind boggling 361 percent rise of violent crimes targeting Asian Americans.

According to a report compiled by Stop AAPI Hate, from March 19, 2020 to December 31, 2021, a total of 10,905 hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people were reported. Out of those incidents, 4,632 occurred in 2020 (42.5 percent) and 6,273 took place in 2021 (57.5 percent).

On May 3, city officials announced that a hearing will be held with members of the Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights to address the ongoing crisis of anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the city.

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Christopher Marte, a lawmaker who represents Chinatown and other parts of lower Manhattan, said the hearing would include a close examination and questioning of police officers from the New York Police Department (NYPD), as well as the city Commission on Human Rights. Marte currently serves as head of the Council’s Committee on Civil and Human Rights, which is jointly conducting the hearing, along with the city’s Committee on Public Safety.

The hearing, as described in an emailed announcement, will explore “what progress, if any, has been made in regards to the city’s response to the widespread hate, and where there is room for improvement.” 

It takes place against a backdrop of several high-profile attacks in recent months, including the death of GuiYing Ma, a 65-year-old woman who was fatally bludgeoned outside her home in Queens; Christina Yuna Lee, a 35-year-old creative producer who was stabbed to death inside her lower Manhattan home; and Michelle Go, a 40-year-old finance professional who died after being pushed off a subway platform in February by a homeless man.

Residents join community and business leaders for a rally in Chinatown to denounce recent acts of violence against Asian-Americans on January 20, 2022 in New York City. (Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The NYPD is also investigating the death of Zhiwen Yan, a 45-year-old delivery worker for a Chinese restaurant who was shot to death on Saturday while driving his scooter in Forest Hills, Queens. 

According to statistics released by the NYPD, major crimes in the 112th Precinct, which covers the neighborhood where Yan was killed, are up nearly 48 percent so far this year, compared to the same period last year. Yan is survived by his wife and their three children. 

There have been 131 hate crimes targeting Asians reported by police in New York last year compared to 28 in 2020 and just one in 2019. The increase has also continued so far into this year, with 10 offenses logged in January and February, compared to four in the same period last year.

However, the number of alleged incidents targeting Asians is likely much higher.

“Safety is the biggest concern in Asian American communities,” Dany Chen, founder of the Chinese-American Justice Alliance told reporters on Monday following the rise in recent attacks against AAPI members in NYC. 

City officials ax plans to open Chinatown shelter

NYC officials also nixed plans to open a new homeless shelter in Chinatown a week after it pulled plans for the second of what was supposed to be a total of three planned shelters in the area. 

The Department of Homeless Services told residents on May 2 that it would be ending its effort to open a 94-room shelter at 231 Grand Street, the site of a former Best Western hotel. The decision came after the local community board voted 37-6 to oppose the project, according to the NY Post. 

“After reviewing planned shelter sites scheduled to open in Chinatown, we have decided to re-evaluate this shelter capacity to an area with fewer services and shelter for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness,” said DHS spokeswoman Julia Savel.

“Our goal is always to work with communities to understand their needs and equitably distribute shelters across all five boroughs to serve our most vulnerable New Yorkers.”

Sharp rise in crimes following COVID-19 

New research has also revealed that hate crimes targeting the AAPI community have reached unprecedented levels since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 — with some experts suggesting the origin of the virus may have been attributed to the rise in AAPI crimes. 

The compilation of hate crime data, published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, revealed that anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the country increased by 339 percent last year compared to the year before — with urban metropolis’ such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities surpassing their record numbers in 2020.

The significant surge is part of an overall 11 percent increase in suspected hate crimes reported to police across a dozen of America’s largest cities.