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Brooklyn pols respond to anti-Asian hate

March 18, 2021 Raanan Geberer
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In the wake of Tuesday night’s attacks in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of them Asian-American women, Brooklyn officials have strongly condemned anti-Asian hate and have pledged to work strongly against it.

The issue, however, pre-dates the attacks, and anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported at various times in Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and other Brooklyn areas with large Asian populations — especially after the coronavirus pandemic began last year.

As recently as early March, in the parking lot of BJ’s Wholesale Club at 1752 Shore Parkway, a Korean-American man and a woman had an argument over boxes in which the woman was heard on video screaming, “Get the f— off my face or I’ll f— your little Chinese (inaudible).”

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On Wednesday, in response to both hate crimes in New York City and the attack in Atlanta, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced his plan to expand Operation Safe Shopper, a program that deploys security cameras outside local businesses, to protect small businesses and individuals in Asian-American communities. 

BP Adams committed $10,000 to the initiative’s expansion and called on the City Council to expand funding for the program. “We must be vigilant to watch out for potential copycat attacks against our Asian-American communities in the coming days, and we must do more to defend ‘soft targets’ like massage parlors,” said Borough President Adams. 

Assemblyman William Colton (D-Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Dyker Heights), who represents a district with a large Asian-American population, said,  “The incident that took place in Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday is very disturbing. The violence and hateful crimes against people of Asian descent in the United States is on the rise. The numerous incidents that occurred between March 19 of last year and Feb. 28 of this year clearly shows that roughly 503 incidents took place during this period.”

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Eastern Brooklyn-Southwest Queens) appeared in Congress with the Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus and said, “We stand in full and complete solidarity with our Asian-American brothers and sisters throughout the country, and we will not rest until we stop anti-Asian hate in America.”

In New York City, anti-Asian attacked increased markedly after the COVID-19 virus, which was first noticed in China. The NYPD says there have been at least six attacks on Asian-Americans during the first two months of this year — compared to none during the same time last year, before the pandemic.

In the most-publicized incident, last August, two teens attacked and punched a 90-year-old Asian-American grandmother at 16th Avenue and 77th Street in Bensonhurst, then set her shirt on fire. 

After the incident, actor Daniel Wu pledged a $15,000 reward for information leading to the perps’ capture, marching $15,000 already pledged by Homecrest Community Services. A month later, two 13-year-old suspects were arrested. 

“I was appalled when I saw the news that a 90-year-old grandmother was struck and set on fire in a racially motivated attack,” Wu said before the suspects were arrested. “This attack must be classified as a hate crime and be treated that way by the police department as they continue to investigate.”

In October of last year, the NYPD announced the formation of an Asian Hate Crime Task Force.

Also, this past February, Brooklyn District Leader Lori Maslow was pressured into resigning after she tweeted that she was so opposed to Chinese tariffs on U.S.-made goods that “I can’t even look at Chinese food.”

The Atlanta episode involved shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs of that city.  Four of the victims who died were of Korean descent. A suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, told authorities that his actions were not racially motivated and that he had a sexual addiction, according to USA Today.

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