CHINATOWN, Manhattan — With hate crimes, particularly ones against Asians, seeing a dramatic spike in numbers so far this year, some leaders in the Asian community on Wednesday held a series of events calling on the city to take greater action.
There were at least three main themes repeated at at least three different events against hate crimes: that more services for the mentally ill might help prevent some of the crimes, that a greater police presence would help people feel safer and that Mayor Bill de Blasio is not doing enough on either of the two other main themes.
Karlin Chan, an activist in Manhattan’s Chinatown, was blunt in talking about mental health services.
“When the mayor is saying, ‘Oh, we need to do more for these people,'” Chan said, “he’s not doing anything. He’s just playing that broken record.”
When asked at his daily briefing about an increase in hate crimes that’s four-fold compared to a year ago, de Blasio said, “The most central problem has been not having our court system operating because when the court system is operating, we see constant movement. We see decisions being made. We see consequences, it makes an impact. We haven’t had that for over a year.”
That was not satisfying people who’d gathered for a news conference on Bayard Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Wednesday. It was in the same block where a 55-year-old Asian woman was sucker punched so hard in an attack on Monday evening, that it knocked her out cold.
Alexander Wright, 48, has been charged with assault as a hate crime and other charges in the attack.
“I just hope our next mayor, whoever that may be,” said Chan, the local activist, “has a better plan.”
Four of the eight front-running mayoral candidates were in Chinatown on Wednesday, at two separate events, to decry anti-Asian hate.
Kathryn Garcia, Scott Stringer, Andrew Yang and Shaun Donovan all expressed support for greater mental health services, and a more visible police presence.