During his morning briefing Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio was joined by Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng to condemn the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination that was fueled by the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and racist rhetoric from politicians.
“Every community suffered, but there’s been a particular pain, a particular horrible challenge faced by the Asian American community,” said de Blasio. “Because on top of all the suffering from the coronavirus itself, on top of losing loved ones, losing businesses, people have had to confront horrible discrimination and hatred from the very beginning.”
“These racist attacks have been outrageous and unconscionable, disgusting, and it must end,” said Meng, who introduced legislation in March 2020 to denounce anti-Asian sentiments.
“I also want to say thank you to so many other communities of color who have stood with us, and stood publicly against this sort of discrimination,” added Meng.
Meng mentioned the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which former President Chester A. Arthur signed into law to curb the rise of Chinese immigrants to the U.S for ten years and declared them ineligible for citizenship.
She said everything from that to the U.S’s Japanese internment camps in the 1940s to former President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban that targeted Muslims and Southeast Asians, has been a sad reflection of the country’s history with attacking minority groups.
Pre-pandemic, New York City and other states saw a wave of anti-semitic attacks, and the U.S struggled to confront its long history with over-policing and brutality towards Black and Brown people right up until George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis cops last May.
Meng said before reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S there were outright discrimination and boycotts of Asian Americans and their businesses. “So many Asian Americans lived in fear and are afraid to leave their homes because they don’t know what might happen to them,” said Meng.
De Blasio said any restaurant or business in the Asian American community that suffered from discrimination deserves help, and the city’s looking to direct tax breaks and loan support towards them from the stimulus.
De Blasio said the city is doling out harsh fines to anyone who commits a hate crime and is working closely with the task force to hopefully prevent more physical incidents.
“The rise is happening in New York City, but not just America, all over the world,” said Deputy Inspector of the Asian Hate Crimes Task Force Stewart Hsiao Loo, who also captains the Manhattan South Detective Bureau.
Two weeks ago, an elderly Filipino man was slashed across his face with a box cutter on a Manhattan-bound L train among other recent slashings on the city’s subways.
Loo said that there have been 28 COVID-related incidents involving people who are Asian, compared to 2019’s three anti-Asian hate crimes. He said out of those there have been 18 arrests in criminal court. “Of course we’d like to have 28 out of 28,” said Loo.
“We are really worried about the reality of people not feeling they could or should report a hate crime. We think there’s more out there, and we encourage people to come forward,” said de Blasio.
The Mayor also noted that the additional cops being sent to aid the MTA will be focusing on hate crime prevention as well.