More than half of Asian New Yorkers experienced hateful acts in 2023, report says

More than half of Asian New Yorkers were on the receiving end of race-related hate in 2023, and fewer than half of those people reported the incidents to anyone, according to a new survey published Thursday.

Fifty-four percent of respondents to the survey by The Asian American Foundation said they “experienced either insults, harassments, threats, or physical attacks in the past 12 months,” while 62% said they had witnessed another Asian New Yorker experiencing the same.

Additionally, one in five said they were physically attacked or assaulted, and 31% said they witnessed a physical attack or assault on a fellow Asian New Yorker.

The findings suggest that personal security and safety remain top of mind for Asian New Yorkers, even as some indicators suggest anti-Asian violence, along with overall crime, has declined from pandemic highs.

The group’s report also points to potentially widespread gaps in data collection by government agencies tasked with documenting acts of race-related incidents. The survey of 1,000 Asian New Yorkers was conducted in English, Chinese, Korean and Bengali.

Eugena Oh, a regional director for The Asian American Foundation, noted that 20% of respondents said they felt “ashamed or embarrassed to report” while 42% said they “did not want to bring attention” to themselves.

“When something like this happens to you, I think there’s a lot of internalization that happens where you may call into question what you could have done to protect yourself to avoid the situation,” Oh said.

She said these problems were compounded by other concerns, including “the cultural competency and linguistic capabilities of the police.” The report said of all the possible solutions sought by Asian New Yorkers, the most common was “better relations with police,” which 67% of respondents picked, while 62% said “mental health services.”

Previous studies and surveys have identified gaps in what Asian New Yorkers say they experience and what shows up in government data.

Last year, the Asian American Bar Association of New York analyzed 233 anti-Asian incidents in New York City from the first three quarters of 2021 and found that only seven “led to hate crime convictions.” Under most hate-crime laws, an unlawful act such as an assault has to be accompanied by a hateful statement or another indicator of bias to be classified a hate crime.

An Oct. 2023 report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights noted that an undercount in local anti-Asian incidents was directly tied to trust, or the lack thereof.

“Some Asian New Yorkers did not report incidents to the police due to a lack of trust that their concerns would be properly addressed because of the lack of hate crime charges, prosecutions, and convictions following these incidents,” the report stated.

An NYPD spokesperson declined to comment on the record. Nationally, the FBI reported there were 499 anti-Asian incidents in 2022, down 33% from 2021.

Liz OuYang, a civil rights attorney who has been involved in local efforts to combat hate, said answers to the concerns must extend beyond policing.

“Enforcement of the law can only go so far,” said OuYang, who founded and has supervised the Hate Crimes Prevention Art Project for OCA-NY, a local Asian organization.

OuYang said any reduction in anti-Asian bias would require improved community relations and “education about different groups of people” and that these would have to happen in an ongoing manner “in order to make laws a reality.”

She said the city also needs more investment in mental health services for New Yorkers and the problem of homelessness.

At the same time, she said, beefing up NYPD patrols wouldn’t necessarily be the remedy.

“More policing doesn’t necessarily equate with improved police-community relations,” OuYang said.

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