Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes in several major cities and regions, including New York City. Despite reaching the end of the pandemic, the Asian community continues to bear the lasting impact and wounds of the hate crimes inflicted upon them.
According to the Stop AAPI Hate reports, from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2022, the organization received reports of nearly 11,500 hate incidents across the U.S., of which approximately 67 percent involved harassment, including verbal and written hate speech. These incidents have made many Asian community residents feel frightened and have raised concerns about their mental health. Among elders who reported hate crimes against Asians, approximately 98 percent said they felt that living in the U.S. as Asian Americans had become more physically dangerous.
A recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino indicated that hate crimes in several major cities across the country had increased last year. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) investigated 619 hate crimes in 2022, an 18-percent increase from 2021.
This article aims to offer information about hate crimes and provide information on the resources accessible to hate crime victims in New York City. If you have been a target or a witness of such crimes, we encourage you to use this guide as a helpful reference for support.
What are hate crimes and hate incidents?
According to the Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. § 534), a hate crime is defined as crimes that “manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender and gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” Some people may commit hate crimes against minority racial/ethnic groups they perceive as dangerous and are outside their place of belonging, such as believing Asians are solely responsible for causing and spreading COVID-19.
In brief, a hate crime must include both “hate” and a “crime,” according to the Department of Justice’s definition. The term “hate” may be misleading, as it does not necessarily mean anger or ordinary dislike in the context of hate crime laws. Instead, “hate” refers to prejudice against individuals or groups with legally specified characteristics.
At the federal level, hate crimes are crimes committed because of bias against a person’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, or disability. Hate crime laws in most states include crimes based on race, color, and religion, while many also include offenses based on sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, and disability. Under the New York City Human Rights law, discrimination and harassment based on race, national origin, age, and disability (including being exposed or perceived as being exposed to COVID-19) are illegal.
The “crimes” in hate crimes are often violent crimes, such as assault, murder, arson, intentional destruction, or threatening to commit such crimes. It may also include conspiracy or solicitation to commit such crimes, even if the crime was never actually committed. By contrast, bias or hate incidents are acts of prejudice that are not crimes and do not involve violence, threats, or property damage. Some bias incidents may be protected by free speech provisions of the Constitution. Others may give rise to civil penalties in New York City under the New York City Human Rights law.
What if you experience or witness a hate crime/incident?
- If you experience or witness a hate crime, please call 911 and say “hate crime,” or contact your local police precinct. If you need translation services, please say “Chinese” in English after it is connected and the operator will transfer you to a Chinese-language service. An officer will then be dispatched to your location to obtain detailed information. Within 24 to 48 hours, a crime victim advocate will contact you to follow up on your case by phone or email.
- If you experience or witness a bias incident, call 311 and say “human rights,” or go to the New York City Commission on Human Rights website to file a discrimination complaint. The Commission can investigate the case or assist you in filing a complaint. The website provides Chinese services.
If you are not sure whether you have experienced a hate crime or a bias incident, you can still contact the above departments, and your complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate department. Reporting the incident is more important.
- You can also contact community organizations that collaborate with government agencies. These organizations will provide you with safety instructions or assist you in filing a hate crime report with law enforcement. The city lists community organizations that provide Mandarin services related to hate crimes, including:
- Chinese American Planning Council: 212-941-0030 (Manhattan); 718-358-8899 (Queens); 718-492-0409 (Brooklyn)
- Asian Americans for Equality: 212-979-8988 (Manhattan); 718-961-0888 (Flushing, Queens); 718-316-9993 (Jackson Heights, Queens)
- If you need mental health support, NYC Well can provide you with mental health assistance. Professional counselors are available 24/7 for assistance and in over 200 languages. Call 888-NYC-WELL, text “WELL” to 65173, or chat online at nyc.gov/nycwell.
- Crime Victim Assistance Program: with spots in various precincts across the city, this program provides immediate emotional, physical, and financial support to victims of crime. Visit this webpage to find the addresses and contact information of victim advocates.
- New York City District Attorney’s Offices: Each office has social workers and victim advocates to provide assistance to crime victims, witnesses, and their family members.
- Manhattan District Attorney’s Office: 212-335-9040
- Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office: 718-250-3820
- Queens District Attorney’s Office: 718-286-6812
- Bronx District Attorney’s Office: 718-590-2114
- Staten Island District Attorney’s Office: 718-697-8333
- New York City Office of Criminal Justice Victim Services Finder: you can use Filters on the right side of the map to filter the language to “Chinese” to search for relevant institutions that provide Chinese services.
- Bystander Intervention Training: Bystander intervention is based on the idea that when we see neighbors and community members facing prejudice, discrimination, or harassment, we can help create safe public spaces for each other. New York City Commission on Human Rights and community partners regularly co-host bystander intervention trainings that provide New Yorkers with tools and strategies to respond safely when they witness incidents of bias and discrimination.
- Self-defense: the Asian American Federation has released the “Stay Safe from Hate” booklet in multiple languages including Chinese. It introduces the corresponding measures that can be taken when encountering hate crimes. Log into this website and fill in your personal email address, and you will receive a free e-booklet.
Report incidents to Stop AAPI Hate, a website that documents reprots of anti-Asian hate and discrimination.