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For the past couple of months, we have all been fighting the coronavirus, but the Asian community has also been fighting another virus:  anti-Asian racism. Although anti-Asian racism is not new, coronavirus has intensified it. In response, AMPHS is working in coordination with Chinese American Family Alliance for Mental Health to hold a four-part “Combating Anti-Asian Harassment” series every Thursday at 2:30 PM in July to discuss anti-Asian racism, reporting hate incidents, self-defense and mental health.  This series is held in collaboration with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congressman Max Rose, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator Andrew Gounardes, Councilmember Margaret Chin, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, and NYC Commission on Human Rights.

On July 9th, we held our first session of this series focusing on an overview of anti-asian hate incidents and how to combat them. We were joined by guest speakers Russell Jeung from San Francisco State University, Kowk Kei Ng, Esq. from Pro Bono and Community Service Committee and Flora Ferng from Commission on Human Rights. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congressman Max Rose, and Senator Andrew Gounardes also joined us to provide an outlook at the way that anti-Asian racism is affecting their districts and the legislative changes that we are seeking, in addition to representatives from the Office of Congresswoman Grace Meng and the Office of Councilwoman Margaret S. Chin.

Senator Andrew Gounardes provided insight into some statistics in his district, stating that “there is a 15% increase of the anti-Asian harassment events since March in New York. We are doing everything we can to support the immigrant community.”

According to Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, “All of us have the responsibility to stand up and say something to provide safe living conditions to every New Yorker. Coronavirus-related hate incidents are creating an unsafe environment, which is not right. We must work together to end this and make sure community members get the relief they need.”

Congressman Max Rose added, “Actions and language that came from President Trump are affecting Chinese and Asian Community in a really bad way and we have to do something to support people, including financial assistance.”


Overview of Anti-Asian Racism (Russell Jeung):

  • Most anti-Asian racism incidents have involved verbal harassment. During COVID-19, however, physical assault increased against Asian-Americans in New York. These incidents mostly targeted children, elderly and women. 
  • Reasons for anti-Asian racism include:
    • Stereotypes: People have always had stereotypes about Chinese people as the “Yellow Peril” 
    • Political purpose: President Trump publicly attacks China and the public follows suit.
    • Media framing: News report leads to Americans’ fear and misunderstanding of Chinese people.
    • Social media framing: Social media images have framed Chinese people as eating “strange things,”  negatively affecting the impression of American citizens.
  • More mental health issues have emerged during COVID-19 than ever before:
    • 1 in 3 Asian-American are suffering from harassment, anxiety and mental health issues. 
    • People are worrying that they and their family may get infected by coronavirus.
    • People do not want to go out because they are afraid of verbal and physical harm 
    • Parents are afraid that their children will be infected or bullied when they go back to school. 
  • What we should do:
    • Improve U.S.-China relations, and overall rhetoric about China, which can change the way people behave.. 
    • Gather comprehensive data about all anti-Asian racism-inflicted incidents  to report real cases to the government, and ask the government to help our communities based on needs reflected in the data.
    • Submit the stories and help the public know what is happening. 
    • Work together across different communities to overcome harassment. 

Crime Reporting (Lawyer Kowk Kei Ng)

  • AABANY is providing free legal services to the public concerning discrimination against Asians during COVID-19. 
  • What can be considered as a crime?
    • Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree
      • New York Penal Law 240.30-3
      • With the intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same because of a belief or perception regarding such person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct. 
    • Hate crime
      • New York Penal Law 485.05
      • A person commits a hate crime when he or she commits a specified offense
      • A “specified offense” is an offense defined by any of the following provisions of this chapter: 
        • Assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, manslaughter, stalking, rape, criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, coercion, criminal trespass, burglary, criminal mischief, arson, petit larceny, grand larceny, robbery, harassment; or any attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing offenses.
  • The racism and discirmination incidents that happen on social network or daily life may not constitute a hate crime. 
  • If you see any hate crime, call 911 immediately. Then the police will collect the evidence and refer the case to prosecutors, who then proceed to the judicial process when they have sufficient evidence.
  • Reporting to the police is one way Asian communities can seek help. But when the case is not enough to constitute a crime, which can be only classified as unfair treatment or discriminatory prejudice, people can seek help from the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

NYC Commission on Human Rights (Flora Ferng)

  • NYC Commission on Human Rights provides help with employment, housing, public facilities, discrimination sexual harassment, law enforcement bias.
  • Criminal prosecution is stricter, so we can seek help from human rights law, which can fine or stop harassment behaviors.The Human Rights Law is rather broad and restricted in NYC. 
  • What makes a human rights case?
    • “ Man calling” is under the protection of speech freedom when it does not violate the exercise of human rights. But the words they are using are important and can make a difference to the case. The victim should record the words by video on their phone or on paper or have a witness.
    • If there are verbal threats, use of violence, coercive language, vandalism, or cyberbullying, then the case can be classified as discriminatory harassment. The victim can report it to the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling  212-416-0197 to leave a message in your language or by visiting the website to report or get help. 
    • The person concerned can report the case, and the witness can also assist in the complaint, regardless of the immigration status. You do not need to present evidence when filing your report. 
    • Not every case can go to civil court, but the situation will be recorded. A new Coronavirus response team was set up at the Commission to strengthen the awareness and protection of the incident places.