Fear, hate and reality: How to combat anti-Asian crimes

All New Yorkers have a right to live free from fear of being targeted because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or religion. But right now, many of our Asian American neighbors walk with trepidation, if not terror. The numbers do not lie: Between the start of this year and May 23, there were 86 reported anti-Asian hate crimes, a more than 350% increase from the 19 reported in all of 2020. And that almost surely understates the problem.

Recent days have brought fresh heinous attacks, including a 55-year-old Asian woman sucker-punched in broad daylight on a Chinatown street Monday, and a 75-year-old grandmother punched in the face in Queens. This isn’t a New York City-specific phenomenon, but nowhere in America is the scourge worse.

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Anti-Asian stereotyping is another part of the problem, and must be vigorously combated. A new federal law should help a bit there.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea blames bail reform, “people arrested multiple, multiple, multiple times, and released.” He’s right that some of those arrested in recent incidents have lengthy rap sheets and went through revolving doors.

It is a mistake that our state’s criminal justice system forbids judges from weighing the danger a person might present to others — as the federal government and almost all other states do — when deciding whether to remand them into jail pre-trial, allowing only risk of flight as a consideration.

But that’s just part of the story. We need to admit that sometimes, in some cases, people are dangerous to themselves and others. Someone experiencing severe mental illness needs treatment, even if that means compelling them to get it using Kendra’s Law or other tools.

Yet New York has laughably few resources for housing and treating people who are drug-addicted or mentally ill. We’ve built far too few new supportive housing units with treatment options, and long-term inpatient psychiatric care facilities have been dismantled over decades.

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Wake up to the complex sources of this problem or it can never be solved.

— New York Daily News

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