Aug. 19, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The NYPD has announced the creation of a new task force aimed at combating the rise of Asian hate crime, which has escalated since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Asian Hate Crime Task Force has been formed to specifically investigate Asian bias attacks with members of the unit well versed in Asian languages and culture. The team will also work to encourage victims to come forward.
There have been 21 reported hate crimes against Asians since the middle of March, the NYPD said at a press briefing Tuesday. The number is up dramatically from a year ago, with there being just three incidents targeting Asians from January through the middle of August in 2019.
However, the number of anti-Asian incidents is likely to be higher, according to the NYPD, as victims often don’t report such attacks due to language barriers, cultural differences and the fear of the authorities.
To address those concerns, the new task force was formed and filled with 25 Asian-American NYPD detectives who speak an array of Asian languages and dialects. The NYPD said it hopes that the make-up of the new team would encourage more victims of anti-Asian crimes to come forward.
The NYPD says the task force will help cops forge a better relationship with members of the Asian community since there will be officers who are well versed in their culture.
Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee welcomed the announcement.
“Queens lauds the NYPD…. for forming this task force to bring the necessary attention to the inflammation of latent racism and discrimination,” Lee said in a statement Tuesday.
Lee said that the rise in hate and bias incidents against Asians led the NYPD to create a new category of crimes earlier this year called “other corona.”
She said that a substantial portion of victims who fell under this category were of Asian origin.
Lee, who is the first person of Asian descent to serve as a borough president in New York City, took a veiled swipe at President Trump yesterday for the rise in Asian hate crime attacks.
“Words matter and have consequences, especially when misnomers like ‘Chinese Virus’ and ‘Kung Flu’ are promulgated,” Lee said.
She did not mention Trump by name, although the president has consistently referred to the coronavirus in such terms.
Lee encouraged victims or witnesses of hate crimes to come forward and report them immediately. She said that reporting hate crimes early is important in investigating these types of cases.
The NYPD said that 17 of the 21 reported anti-Asian hate crimes reported in the city since March have resulted in arrests.
WATCH LIVE: @NYPDDetectives announces a new initiative. https://t.co/ennfxPcmSG
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) August 18, 2020