The meeting came on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that the city would be deploying more police officers in predominantly Asian communities after the recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes.
Shea’s meeting, which was held in Sunset Park and simultaneously live-streamed, introduced two additional initiatives meant to protect Asian-Americans from violence. The first is an increase in the deployment of plain-clothes police officers to add additional layers of enforcement in Asian communities.
“We’re increasing our outreach to Asian-American communities and we’re also adding layers of enforcement,” Shea explained. “We’ll be using police officers in plain clothes to prevent New Yorkers from being victims in the first place.”
Additionally, Shea announced the NYPD’s intention to promote tools for reporting hate crimes, as well as other important information. The effort has already begun, as NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Williams tweeted links to various resources during the meeting.
“There is no place for hate in New York City,” she tweeted. “We have translators for more than 200 languages available to help you.”
A video featuring Officer Zhang from the NYPD’s 5th Precinct was also played during the meeting.
“The NYPD has been taking Asian hate crimes very seriously,” Zhang said. “The NYPD has been increasing police presence in high-density areas to target Asian hate crimes.”
However, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park, said more police officers isn’t the answer.
“One thing that is clear after having spoken to many of my constituents is that further criminalizing our communities with more police is not the answer,” he said. “We need to direct resources to local organizations on the ground who have the trust of the community and know how to interrupt violence and build bridges with law enforcement.
“We have to think long and hard about how we can earn the trust of New Yorkers, and that starts by following the lead of our AAPI leaders," he added.
Meanwhile, city comptroller and mayoral nominee Scott Stringer wrote an open letter to de Blasio calling on the city to pass legislation that would protect delivery works. The letter, which calls for full transparency on every purchase made through delivery apps, is specifically aimed at protecting Asian Americans.
"Rain, snow, or shine, New York City’s delivery workers have worked through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure New Yorkers have access to food and other essential supplies, and their labor was a lifeline to restaurants and bars trying to remain open during the city’s darkest days,” Stringer said. “But that labor is too often kicked to the curb by exploitative food delivery apps and a lack of basic protections and services provided by the city."
Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of Asian American Federation, cosigned the letter.
"As an organization that fought to protect immigrant food delivery workers by pushing for the legalization of e-bikes, the Asian American Federation knows firsthand how vulnerable these essential workers are and the conditions they are forced to work in just to support themselves and their families,” she said. “The city and state each have a role to play to ensure greater protections for a workforce that keeps the city running, during and beyond times of crisis."