Mental Illness is ‘Common Denominator’ in Some Anti-Asian Attacks, NYPD Task Force Chief Says

Asian Hate Crimes

Mental illness is the “common denominator” in some of the attacks against Asian Americans in New York, said Inspector Tommy Ng, commander of the city’s Asian Hate Crimes Task Force.

New York City recorded 42 anti-Asian hate crimes in the first quarter of 2021, the largest number among 16 major cities in the U.S., according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino.

Mental illness: Ng spoke in an interview with CBS News anchor Vladimir Duthiers about some of the attacks against Asian Americans.

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  • The interviewer noted that many of these attacks caught on surveillance appear to be “perpetrated by African Americans” and that it is difficult to persuade Asian Americans that there is no “bias against them coming from African American members of the community.”
  • Regarding the data on who the perpetrators are, Ng responded that race “does not play a major role.”
  • “The common denominator is, some of these [attacks] are driven or motivated by mental illness,” he said. Ng also raised the same point earlier last month in an interview with PIX 11, saying that mental illness is “a big component of the driving force” of such attacks.
  • Whether an incident can be classified as a hate crime depends on “particular situations and circumstances,” Ng added, including if any racial statements were made or if there were prior interactions or similar incidents around the same time or area.

Attacks are nothing new: Ng said attacks against Asian Americans are “absolutely not new,” but members of the community — especially younger ones — are now more proactive in reporting and spreading awareness.

  • The task force chief, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, said he fell victim to robberies himself as a teenager in the U.S.
  • He chose not to report the first of two robberies due to the language barrier and unfamiliarity with the American justice system.
  • Understanding the victims as they go through traumatic incidents is “extremely important,” he said.
  • Ng added that Asian Americans are more aware of contacting the police and reporting not just hate crimes, but others, due to the NYPD’s increased outreach.

The Asian Hate Crimes Task Force has deployed undercover officers to catch perpetrators, spoken directly with community members, conducted anti-hate events and connected victims of hate and other crimes to appropriate aid channels.

Featured Image via CBS News

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