Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and a host of elected officials announced on Monday new legislation that would expand Hate Crime charges as biased attacks continue to rise in the Big Apple.
Bragg joined Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Assembly member Grace Lee, and City Councilmember Keith Powers as they unveiled the new law inside the District Attorney’s office located at 80 Centre St. The legislation will push for current loopholes in the law to be done away with that can see bigots committing gang assaults and even murder motivated by acts of hatred yet not charged as such.
“If a group of people beat someone up because of their race, that gang assault as the law calls it, cannot be charged as a hate crime. That needs to change,” Bragg said. “Hate crime does not discriminate. It has targeted all of our communities.”
According to NYPD statistics, hate crime has been on the rise in New York since the conflict began in the Middle East on Oct. 7, resulting in incidents doubling. Data shows that there were 101 reported hate crimes last month compared to merely 45 in October 2022. The same data shows that 41 incidents occurred in Manhattan compared with 21 in 2022. Bragg charged that these numbers are only what is reported to police, with many crimes still going unreported and unpunished.
“This is still an underreported crime. We are still reaching out to communities to make sure they trust to come forward with us, and you can imagine the conversations when things that inexplicably can’t be charged as hate crimes. We have to have those conversations with survivors and victims. While these changes have long been in the works, they are unfortunately newly urgent,” Bragg said.
Despite hate crimes spiking due to the war in the Middle East, the numbers have been steadily increasing since 2015, with attacks on protected classes seeing increases during major world events such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assemblymember Grace Lee solemnly recalled the way in which Chinatown was besieged by discriminatory attacks in 2020, even stating that she herself was a victim of xenophobia, along with her child.
“I was walking down the street with my young daughter when a woman threw a bottle at me and yelled anti-Asian slurs at us. But this isn’t something that just happens in the Asian community. We know that many vulnerable communities across New York are experiencing this,” Lee said.
The new legislation will be introduced in January 2024 where it will be voted upon.