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NYC Chinatown. Photo: Flickr
NYC Chinatown. Photo: Flickr

A first arrest in NYPD undercover op against AAPI hate shows effectiveness

A woman hurling anti-Asian slurs at a nail salon was taken into custody after one of them was directed at an officer.

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New York City has an Asian-American population of about 14.09%, and the city contains nine different Chinatowns.  NYC is very diverse,and people of many backgrounds are easily able to find a little bit of home among the people, stores and authentic restaurants.

But since the pandemic began last March, many Asian-Americans have had the “welcome mat” ripped from underneath their feet. This welcome mat was never truly laid out to begin with, but with the overwhelming rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country, the trauma is starting to take its toll.

The trauma Asian-Americans are currently experiencing did not start with the racial scapegoating caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, capital city of Hubei Province in central China.

This trauma is intergenerational, passed down from parents and grandparents, who may have been prisoners of war in Japanese internment camps, survivors of sexual assault at the hands of U.S military personnel, or simply faced xenophobia throughout their whole lives in America.

Chinese citizens as well as Asian-Americans had nothing to do with COVID-19 nor the spread of it. Anti-Asian sentiments already thrive on our soil, and it’s much easier to point fingers than to take responsibility for flattening the curve and protecting each other.

The harassment and violence has been occurring all over the U.S, but it’s been pretty concentrated in cities like New York and the Bay Area, California.

In 2021, NYC reported 26 anti-Asian incidents, including 12 assaults, according to the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

In response, the New York Police Department has increased outreach and patrols in Asian communities, including a brand-new team of plainclothes officers, all of Asian descent. 

The undercover agents are patrolling public areas like grocery stores, subway stations and more.

NYPD added two new detectives to its hate crimes task force to host community forums in Asian neighborhoods, like Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park. They’re also providing businesses and residents with posters and pamphlets printed in Korean, Mandarin and other Asian languages.

The undercover team began patrolling in late March, and they have already made their first arrest in a targeted harassment case.

Around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, a woman named Sharon Williams walked into a nail salon in lower Manhattan. Shortly after entering Good Choice for Nails, she started cursing out the workers, according to police.

“You brought coronavirus to this country!” she allegedly screamed.

The 50-year-old continued harassing Asian people, as she directed her anger at a pedestrian on the block. An Asian plainclothes officer from the new team noticed the situation and began to question her.

This only served to fuel her fury even further, and she called the cop a “monkey,” and hurled similar slurs in their direction.

Williams said the hurtful words as she was taken to custody. She is now charged with aggravated assault as a hate crime and criminal trespassing.

In a short time, the new undercover team has successfully made an arrest. Ideally this program will not only disrupt targeted harassment and attacks towards Asian-Americans in NYC, but prevent them on a large scale. 

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