Feb. 22, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Queens lawmakers and community leaders joined together on the steps of Borough Hall Monday to denounce a recent string of hate crimes against the Asian American and Jewish communities in the borough.
The press conference was organized by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards following three bias incidents in the borough this month. Two Asian woman were attacked and a swastika was drawn on a Rego Park synagogue last Tuesday.
“For even just one of these incidents to occur here in Queens, the most diverse county in America, is an affront to everything we represent,” Richards said at Borough Hall. “But for three to happen in [two] weeks, on top of everything our borough has been through over the past year? It’s time to stand up and say ‘enough.’”
The first incident took place in Astoria on Feb. 9 when a man followed a woman in Astoria and made a series of anti-Asian remarks. The victim posted footage of the incident on twitter.
A week later, on Feb. 16, a 52-year-old Asian woman was shoved to the ground by a man on Main Street in Flushing. The suspect was arrested late last week after a video of the attack went viral on social media, in part due to actress Olivia Munn’s help.
That same day, a swastika was found scrawled on the outside of a synagogue in Rego Park. The NYPD is investigating the anti-Semitic graffiti.
Richards condemned all three incidents and noted the recent uptick in crimes against Asian Americans. The surge in bias incidents against Asian Americans, he noted, has taken place across the borough and the nation since the outbreak of COVID-19.
There were 27 reported hate crimes against Asian Americans in New York City last year, according to a report by The City, citing NYPD data. The number is up significantly from 2019, when there were just three incidents targeting Asians.
The increase prompted the NYPD to create a new task force last year to investigate and combat the spike in Asian bias attacks. The Asian Hate Crime Task Force was filled with 25 Asian-American NYPD detectives who speak an array of Asian languages and dialects.
At the press conference Monday, Richards noted that Queens is one of the most diverse places in the country and said that hate has no place in the borough.
“To those who look at their neighbors with anger and resentment, and act on hate: Queens welcomes individuals of all racial backgrounds, ages, faiths and gender identities,” Richards said. “If you do not share our values or our shared future, you can gladly leave.”