SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn — Businesses are closing early and older Asian-Americans are afraid to go out at all — that ‘s the message three New York City congresswomen heard Friday as they toured Sunset Park’s Asian American community, centered around Eighth Avenue.
“They really want to have the security of having a patrol that will help their customers be comfortable,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D) Brooklyn said of area business owners.
Clarke was joined by Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Grace Meng, both also Democrats. Local NYPD Precinct Captain Ernesto Castro Jr. was also on scene.
Hate crimes against Asians are up by around 150%, including some high profile and terrifying incidents in New York City. Castro Jr. said support from trusted elected officials would help police keep the community safe.
“Opening up the lines of communication to make sure we get all the resources out that we need to get out into the community” would benefit the mission, he said.
But the congresswomen did not just come with support, but also solutions.
They are proposing several bills to lift up victims of hate crimes, and use education to combat the issue long term.
“We’re not going to ‘hate crime’ our way out of this,” Meng said, speaking about the pending legislation. “It will allow for more counseling and education when we are charging a hate crime, to really break down long term biases and stereotypes.”
The congresswomen also praised the recent symbolic designation of racism as a “serous public health threat” by the Centers for Disease Control.
“It’s a very big deal,” Clarke said. “For too long we’ve been a country in denial about how racism is in the very soil of this nation.”
If you or someone you know are experiencing anti-Asian hate, click here for resources.
Anyone who witnesses an incident can also find out more information on bystander intervention by clicking here.