The task force was created in response to the growing cases of anti-Asian attacks since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
“The task force is here to help in all aspects of investigation and we are here to guarantee there’s a strong appropriate response to the hate that’s infecting our city,” Loo added.
The task force, which is unfunded and has members from the community, will focus on the entire city, but it will also pay attention to the transit system following a tragic attack where a man had his face slashed on the subway.
In terms of the number of cases and arrests, Loo said the city logged 28 anti-Asian attacks in 2020 — a much higher figure than the three incidents recorded in 2019. However, he pointed out that there was no pandemic at the time.
The NYPD has so far made 18 arrests out of the 28 incidents. They were hoping to make 28 arrests, but Loo said most of the investigations are still active. Authorities have so far only received two incident reports for 2021.
“Every community suffered, but there’s been a particular pain, a particular horrible challenge, faced by the Asian American community,” de Blasio said, according to ABC7NY’s Eyewitness News. “Because on top of all the suffering from the coronavirus itself, on top of losing loved ones losing businesses, people have had to confront horrible discrimination and hatred.”
The Asian American Federation, which has created its own reporting system, has logged more than 500 incidents since last year.
According to the New York Post, Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the organization, said at the conference, “The Asian American community has been reeling from the second pandemic of racism.”
“These attacks are reminders of my community suffering since last January, to tell you the truth, we are scared outraged and devastated by hate incidents against Asian New Yorkers,” Yoo added. “We know that that’s an undercount, so I encourage people to come forward and report their stories.”
In addition to the task force, New York City officials also launched the site NYC.gov/StopAsianHate to help and encourage victims to come forward and report any attacks.
“We are really worried about the reality of people not feeling they could or should report a hate crime,” Loo said of the new effort. “We think there’s more out there. We want to encourage people to come forward. We will protect their identities.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng, who also appeared at the conference, thanked the other communities of color for helping the Asian community stand up against discrimination amid the pandemic.
“We have already seen our members and small businesses fight the pandemic of anti-Asian hatred, and these racist attacks have been outrageous, unconscionable, disgusting, and it must end,” Meng said. “I also want to say a special thank you to so many other communities of color who have stood with us and stood publicly against this sort of discrimination. That allyship is incredibly important and meaningful.”
Feature Image via Getty