“A virus that has been in our midst long before Covid-19 came to town — that virus is called hate ... This plague of prejudice is running much too rampant, just like it’s been for generations.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, flanked by fellow elected officials, community leaders and NYPD anti-hate task force members, denounced the rise in hate crimes throughout the borough. Like the Covid-19 pandemic, the hate has significantly struck Asian American communities, especially in the last few weeks.
On Feb. 9, a man verbally accosted an Asian woman in Astoria, following her and repeatedly asking why Chinese people eat dogs. A week later, a man in Flushing aggressively pushed an older Asian woman to the ground. She required stitches to close the gash on her forehead.
City Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Flushing), who lives just a few blocks away from the latter incident, recalled his own attack last April. Three men followed him into his apartment lobby, hit him on the back of the head and attempted to rob him. Koo said he didn’t suspect it was a hate crime at the time, but was forced to reconsider the perpetrators’ motivations in light of growing Anti-Asian hate.
Anti-Asian hate has grown since the beginning of the pandemic, which Richards chalks up to then-President Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric. By referring to the virus as the “Wuhan virus” and “Kung Flu,” Trump was effectively blaming Asians for infecting Americans, resulting in the surge of targets violence.
In response to the growing hate, the NYPD created the Asian Hate Crime Task Force in August.
“Hate is not tolerated. Violence is not tolerated. The days our Asian American neighbors take [this hate] — those days are over. New York City will hold you accountable,” Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo, the task force’s commanding officer, said at the Monday morning conference.
Anti-Jewish hate has been profound as well, Richards pointed out. Last Thursday, a swastika was found scrawled on the Rego Park Jewish Center’s exterior.
District Attorney Melinda Katz revealed that her office is investigating 30 cases of alleged hate crimes, all from the past year.
“I want to be clear that any violence against any person is condemned in the County of Queens, but when it is motivated by hate, when it’s motivated by where folks come from, when it’s motivated by the language that you speak, when it’s motivated by anything like that in categories, it is particularly [reprehensible],” Katz said on the steps of Borough Hall. “When it occurs to one of us, it happens to all of us.”
The district attorney plugged a hotline for hate crime tips that she launched in June. Those who are a victim of an incident or have watched one unfold are encouraged to report it to (718) 286-7010.