The NYPD Is Finally Waking Up to Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans

Since the start of the pandemic, hate crimes against Asians have spiked in New York City and around the country.
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)

The New York Police Department announced the formation of a task force to handle potential hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans, amid an ongoing spike in violence linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

There were reportedly more than 2,300 racist incidents against Asian Americans between the beginning of the pandemic and July 15, according to the Asian Pacific Policy Planning Council. More than 300 of those incidents were reported in New York, including an incident last month where two men slapped an 89-year-old woman and set her shirt on fire.


The new spike in violence has been linked to the COVID-19 pandemic after the first cases of coronavirus were discovered in China in late 2019. President Donald Trump and other members of the Republican Party have repeatedly blamed China for the spread of the virus to the United States, where authorities have struggled mightily to keep the pandemic under control.

Though studies have indicated that the first cases of coronavirus in New York City came from Europe and other parts of the United States, the attack has stuck. A July Pew survey found that 78 % of Americans blame the Chinese government’s initial handling of the Wuhan outbreak either a “great deal” or a “fair amount” for the pandemic’s global spread.

Trump has even referred to the virus as the “kung flu,” and in an incident caught on video earlier this month, a New York City subway passenger used that same slur in a confrontation with a Taiwanese-American woman.

For months, Asian American community members have called for more action from authorities. "The sentiment among the Asian Americans is that not enough is being done," NYPD Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo said Tuesday. "Everyone’s saying the same thing: ‘The police don’t care, Asian Americans' voices don’t matter.' This task force is saying otherwise."

The team will reportedly include 25 bilingual Asian American officers and will be a permanent fixture of the NYPD. "This task force has been built and will continue to build trust and understanding between the NYPD and with Asian New Yorkers," NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said.

Still, advocates see this only as a first step in combating racism against Asian Americans.

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Cover: A store clerk wears a face mask and a shield in a traditional Chinese medicine and herbs store in the Chinatown section of Lower Manhattan, New York, May 18, 2020. (Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)