March 24, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A new hotline to report hate crimes and xenophobic-based incidents has been set up in the wake of the coronavirus spread and anti-Asian rhetoric.
It comes after an uptick in the number of bigoted attacks against Asian Americans, according to Attorney General Letitia James, who announced the service Monday.
She said that some public officials and media pundits have created a toxic environment for Asian Americans by referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”
“As we face an unprecedented and uncertain time for New York, the United States, and the world, we must reiterate the fact that this pandemic does not give anyone an excuse to be racist, xenophobic, or biased,” James said.
“No one should live in fear for their life because of who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. I encourage all victims of discriminatory actions stemming from this pandemic to contact my office. We will continue to work with local law enforcement to combat hate in all its insidious forms.”
With rising reports of harassment & assaults, as well as rhetoric against Asian Americans amidst #coronavirus, I’m launching a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes & bias-based incidents.
This pandemic does not give anyone an excuse to be racist, xenophobic, or biased. pic.twitter.com/HPvZgpcIal
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) March 23, 2020
Hate crimes linked to the coronavirus have jumped, she said, and there is need for urgent action.
For instance, on March 12, an alleged bigot assaulted a man who was with his 10-year-old son in an apparent hate crime on Queens Boulevard.
“You f–king Chinese,” he reportedly shouted to the man. “Where’s your f–king mask” he said.
On March 11, a 59-year-old Asian man was kicked in the back — which knocked him to the ground– by a teenager in Manhattan. The suspect allegedly told him to go back to his country and mentioned the coronavirus.
And last Thursday, a man was collared by police for allegedly robbing an Asian woman inside a Brooklyn train station and telling her to “go back to China” and “get your temperature checked, you need to leave.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng, who has been outspoken on the issue, has welcomed news of the hotline.
“I have repeatedly called on public officials – from the President to the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives – to abstain from using derogatory language that demonizes Asian Americans,” she said.
“This must stop. Public officials and the media must speak truth to power and refrain from dabbling in misinformation or conspiracy theories,” she said.
State Senator John Liu said that Asian Americans are besieged on two fronts by the COVID-19.
They are having to deal with the spread of COVID-19 like the public as a whole– as well as “outbreaks of ignorance and bigotry sometimes inflicting more harm than the virus itself.”
“More and more hateful incidents are occurring, ranging from distasteful gestures to obnoxious name-calling to outright violence against Asian-Americans — and despicably condoned by the president himself, he said.
Liu added that the battle against the coronavirus has actually brought out the best among New Yorkers but it is necessary to remind some not to let the fear of the unknown devolve into “irrational and inexcusable hate.”