“This is OUTRAGEOUS. Let me be perfectly clear: there WILL be consequences for anyone caught taking part in this kind of cruel racial profiling. To our Asian American community: your city has your back and this discrimination will NOT be tolerated.”
Mayor de Blasio took to Twitter Saturday to respond to a New York Post story that quoted anonymous taxi drivers discriminating against Asian riders for fear of contracting the coronavirus, with some saying they won’t accept rides from Flushing residents.
The story, “NYC cabbies avoiding Chinese neighborhoods over coronavirus fears,” broke Feb. 15, just two days after de Blasio hosted a Flushing press conference denouncing using the rapidly spreading disease as an excuse for discrimination.
“Any for-hire vehicle [driver] found to be discriminating against Asians, or anybody else, should be fired, plain and simple,” said City Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Flushing) told the Chronicle in an email. “The coronavirus, or COVID19, is colorblind. It is not a reason to discriminate against an entire population of people.”
Following de Blasio’s tweet, city Taxi and Limousine Commission representative Aloysse Heredia Jarmoszuk tweeted her own response: “Not in our city. Fare refusal is illegal—we won’t stand for discrimination against our Asian American community. Fear is the enemy, not our neighbors.”
Without admitting to or denying the claims, Jarmoszuk referred taxi riders to report ride refusals over racial concerns to 311.
“Racial profiling and exclusion has long been a problem with some of New York’s cab drivers and must be eradicated, but it remains to be seen whether recent reports of cabbie aversion to Asian Americans are more than anecdotal,” state Senator John Liu said in an email to the Chronicle.
Discrimination as a result of the coronavirus has directly affected Flushing businesses — the Flushing Chinese Business Association reported a 40 percent decrease since the illness became a national concern despite there being no confirmed cases in the state.
The disease has claimed 1,775 lives and infected over 71,000 individuals worldwide, according to a live Feb. 17 CNN count.