Crime against Asian Americans


In recent times, we have only seen racial discrimination in the form of crime towards African Americans, specifically towards police brutality. Discriminatory acts of violence towards Asians are therefore overlooked. A 62 year old Asian man was murdered as he was fishing off a pier in Chicago and was pushed into Lake Michigan. A 9 year old had to stand in court and talk about his 16 year old brother who was a casualty in a brawl consisting of Asian and White kids. 4 Asian American men were attacked in Douglaston, Queens which is a very Caucasian populated area with a recent stream of Asians coming in.

When we talk about discriminatory crime against Asians, most of the time it happens with the youth and the perpetrators are often, if not always, a person of a different race. This issue stems from the stereotype that Asians are weak (possibly because many of us are not as tall as the other races) and are often push overs. The stereotypical Asian is one with glasses and a tucked in shirt. He or she probably spends all day and night studying thus lacking a social life and deemed ‘uncool’. Many feminists say “I deserve to not be afraid of getting raped while walking the city streets” well, we Asians too would like to not be attacked.

In the following pieces of articles you will find that culturally, America has been and is somewhat not accepting of Asians. It is not an isolated event where a certain race (be it White or Black) is against them but it is a cultural issue that needs to be fixed. In these articles you will also find the gruesome extent to which Asians are not even safe walking around certain areas.

Accusations of a Hate Crime Expose Tensions

An attack on four Asian-American men in Douglaston, Queens, that prosecutors are calling a hate crime has opened a breach in the unsteady truce between the neighborhood’s mostly white population and the prospering Chinese and Korean immigrants who have moved to the area in recent years, residents said yesterday.

”There’s an undercurrent of suspicion of the new immigrant — what are they doing, what are they building, what are they putting in that store?” said Susan Seinfeld, the district manager of Community Board 11, which includes Douglaston, Bayside and Little Neck, neighborhoods where the number of Asian residents has increased in the past 10 years. Still, Ms. Seinfeld said, ”it’s not been brought to that level ever before.”

Early Saturday, four New Yorkers of Chinese descent were attacked on Douglaston Parkway by two white men shouting racial slurs, according to the authorities. Two of the Chinese-Americans — Reynold Liang and John C. Lu, both 19 — were beaten, Mr. Liang with a steering wheel locking device. Two white men, Kevin M. Brown, 19, of Auburndale, and Paul A. Heavey, 20, of Little Neck, have been charged with assault and hate crimes.

Some residents of Douglaston and Bayside said the attack was an isolated event; others spoke of an undercurrent of animosity toward the Korean and Chinese residents.

Jennifer Kim, a teacher from Douglaston Manor, said she suspected that white residents talked about Asians behind their backs. But James Giogaia, ducking into a Bayside Starbucks where the menu was printed in Korean, said he had lived in the neighborhood for 24 years and had never seen a problem.

In the last five years, the commercial corridor along Northern Boulevard from Flushing to Douglaston has undergone a major transformation, with an influx of Korean restaurants, salons and markets.

Korean entrepreneurs ready to expand out of an increasingly crowded downtown Flushing found themselves unable to build west on Northern Boulevard because Chinese businesses had already staked out that ground, according to Pyong-Gap Min, a professor of sociology at Queens College. Instead, they went east, about as far as Bell Boulevard, razing and retrofitting older buildings along the way.

Members of earlier immigrant groups have taken notice. ”The entire strip of Northern Boulevard in the past four or five years went from German and Italian to Korean,” said a 24-year-old Italian-American man working at Ceriello Italian Fine Foods on Douglaston Parkway. He did not want to give his name.

”It definitely doesn’t shock me,” he said of the attack.

For years, the signs in Korean and Chinese that adorn new businesses have been a major irritant to white residents, with many complaining that they make them feel like outsiders. City Councilman Tony Avella, who represents the area, has introduced legislation to require store owners to include English translations on signs.

Still, many businesses have voluntarily added the translation, Dr. Min said, an indication that most immigrant business owners want to get along in their new neighborhoods.

Dr. Min, who is Korean, recalled instances of bias when he moved to Bayside two decades ago, including the placing of nails in the tires of an Asian friend’s car. ”Now it’s much better,” he said. ”All of my neighbors are Chinese. I am surrounded by Chinese. I feel very comfortable there.”

Indeed, the population of Douglaston, Little Neck and Bayside is now estimated to be about one-third Asian, Dr. Min said.

The other two Chinese-Americans who were with Mr. Lu and Mr. Liang, David Wu, 19, and Wing Chung Poon, escaped injury.

Mr. Heavey was released on $10,000 bail, while Mr. Brown remained in custody, a spokeswoman for the Correction Department said yesterday. According to the Queens district attorney’s office, Mr. Brown’s bail was set at $30,000 bond or $20,000 cash.

To Mr. Liang, a student from Douglaston, there was little question that racism was at play.

”They did it because I was Asian,” Mr. Liang told reporters at a news conference at the Flushing office of City Councilman John C. Liu. On the advice of their lawyers, neither he, Mr. Wu nor Mr. Lu would discuss details of the events leading up to the attack.

”I definitely don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Mr. Liang said. ”Queens is a nice area. It’s my home.”

Photo: In front, from left, John C. Lu, Reynold Liang and David Wu, three of four Chinese-Americans who were victims in what is being called a hate crime, yesterday at City Councilman John C. Liu’s Flushing office. In back, from left, Councilmen David Weprin and Liu, and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. (Photo by Uli Seit for The New York Times)

Written by: Michelle o’Donnell; Sarah Garland contributed reporting for this article.
August 15, 2006

Asian youth persistently harassed by U.S. peers

asian-youth-insideNEW YORK (AP) — Eighteen-year-old Chen Tsu was waiting on a Brooklyn subway platform after school when four high school classmates approached him and demanded cash. He showed them his empty pockets, but they attacked him anyway, taking turns pummeling his face.

He was scared and injured — bruised and swollen for several days — but hardly surprised.

At his school, Lafayette High in Brooklyn, Chinese immigrant students like him are harassed and bullied so routinely that school officials in June agreed to a Department of Justice consent decree to curb alleged “severe and pervasive harassment directed at Asian-American students by their classmates.” Since then, the Justice Department credits Lafayette officials with addressing the problem — but the case is far from isolated.

Nationwide, Asian students say they’re often beaten, threatened and called ethnic slurs by other young people, and school safety data suggest that the problem may be worsening. Youth advocates say these Asian teens, stereotyped as high-achieving students who rarely fight back, have for years borne the brunt of ethnic tension as Asian communities expand and neighborhoods become more racially diverse.

“We suspect that in areas that have rapidly growing populations of Asian-Americans, there often times is a sort of culture clashing,” said Aimee Baldillo of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. Youth harassment is “something we see everywhere in different pockets of the U.S. where there’s a large influx of (Asian) people.”

In the last five years, Census data show, Asians — mostly Chinese — have grown from 5% to nearly 10% of Brooklyn residents. In the Bensonhurst neighborhood, historically home to Italian and Jewish families, more than 20% of residents now are Asian. Those changes have escalated ethnic tension on campuses such as Lafayette High, according to Khin Mai Aung, staff attorney at the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is advocating for Lafayette students.

“The schools are the one place where everyone is forced to come together,” Aung said.

Brooklyn’s changes mirror Asian growth nationally. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders grew from 3.7 million to nearly 12 million. After Latinos, Asians are the nation’s fastest-growing ethnic group.

Stories of Asian youth being bullied and worse are common. In recent years:

• A Chinese middle schooler in San Francisco was mercilessly taunted until his teacher hid him in her classroom at lunchtime.

• Three Korean-American students were beaten so badly near their Queens high school that they skipped school for weeks and begged to be transferred.

• A 16-year-old from Vietnam was killed last year in a massive brawl in Boston.

Some lawmakers have responded. The New York City Council, after hearing hours of testimony from Asian youth, last year passed a bill to track bullying and train educators on prevention. Also last year, California Assemblywoman Judy Chu won passage of a new law to allow hate crimes victims more time — up to three years — to file civil suits; the bill was inspired by a 2003 San Francisco incident in which five Asian teens were attacked by a mob of youth.

In August, the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Islander Youth Violence Prevention Center organized a first-ever conference on the subject in Sacramento. Isami Arifuku, assistant director of the center, said she expected about 200 participants but nearly double that number attended.

Experts offer several broad explanations for the bullying problem.

In the broadest strokes, Baldillo said, Asian youth are sometimes small in stature and often adhere to cultural mores urging them to avoid confrontation and focus on academics. Many don’t report bullying because they fear repercussions or don’t want to embarrass their families, she added.

Language barriers also exacerbate the situation. “I have to hear, ‘(Expletive) Chinese!’ at least three times a day, and they always say it to people who look weaker and don’t speak English,” said Rita Zeng, 19 and a senior at Lafayette High. The parents of limited-English students often have little access to translators and struggle to advocate for their children, Aung said.

Chen Tsu described his beating in April at a subway station, saying through a translator: “Those guys looked like they could kill somebody. … I was scared to go back to school.”

Increasingly, some victims are fighting back. A 2003 California survey by the Services and Advocacy for Asian Youth Consortium found that 14% of Asian youth said they join gangs for protection. Department of Justice school crime data found the number of Asian youth carrying weapons nearly tripled from 1999 to 2001.

“There are more Asian kids being brought to juvenile court for assault and battery,” Arifuku said. “The thing we’re finding in their history is that they had been picked on — called names and teased — and in some cases they lashed out and retaliated.”

Advocates and students say that, typically, large fights erupt after weeks or months of verbal taunting.

That’s what happened at Edison High School in Fresno, Calif., according to Malcolm Yeung of the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. For months starting late last year, Hmong students had been repeatedly called names and had food thrown at them.

“There had been patterns of this happening over and over again,” said Yeung, whose group investigated the case on behalf of Asian students. “But the school had overlooked the issue.”

On Feb. 25, the lunchtime taunting escalated into fights involving at least 30 students, according to Susan Bedi, spokesman for Fresno Unified School District. Seven students were treated for injuries, 12 were suspended and two faced expulsion, she said. Eight were convicted of misdemeanor assault, said Fresno police Sgt. Anthony Martinez.

This year, officials at Edison High added more security and started an on-campus human relations council to address ethnic tension, Bedi said.

At Lafayette High, tension has long been high on campus and in surrounding areas, said Steve Chung, president of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn, whose group was founded in late 2002 after an earlier student beating. That incident “was like the ignition — it started a fire” in the community.

The student, a straight-A senior, was thrashed to unconsciousness while anti-Chinese slurs were yelled at him. Some news reported dubbed the school “Horror High,” and Chinese students began going public about the problem.

“The more we dug into Lafayette High School, the more we found,” Chung said.

Aung’s probing revealed that school administrators seemed reluctant to intervene, translation services for parents and students was spotty and teachers who reported the problems may have been punished.

School officials say some reports were exaggerated. But “the problems there went back many, many years,” said Michael Best, general counsel for New York City schools. Since signing the consent decree in June, he said, “the situation at the school in our view is very, very different.” A Justice Department spokesman agreed that the school has been “very responsive.”

Teachers this year are getting training to curb harassment, translation services throughout the district have been beefed up, and race relations experts are working with students and staff on campus, deputy New York schools chancellor Carmen Farina said.

Last year, Lafayette’s longtime principal retired, and many are optimistic about the new principal, Jolanta Rohloff. In addition, new vice principal Iris Chiu is fluent in Chinese and working closely with parents and students. “We actively sought someone that we knew could handle the delicacy of the school,” Farina said.

Still, she said, an incident already has been reported since school started: An Asian student was attacked by several classmates on his way to the subway. He suffered minor injuries.

Written by: Mary Altaffer

November 13, 2005

Hate crimes against Asian-Pacific Americans increase

Hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States rose 17 percent in 1996, according to a report to be released today, which cites incidents in Northern California ranging from physical attacks in San Francisco housing projects to slurs at Stanford University.

The survey by the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, which includes the San Francisco-based Asian Law Caucus, documented 534 incidents that were racially motivated last year, compared to 458 in 1995.

And while such episodes dropped in California to 188 from 204 the previous year, they increased slightly in Northern California, from 93 to 102. The study, which the authors plan to present today to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, is based on data gathered by law enforcement, social and legal agencies and media accounts.

“The statistics reflect increasing anti-immigrant sentiment in politics and in communities undergoing dramatic demographic shifts,” said Victor Hwang, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus. “The Sunset District (of San Francisco) is an example.”

Interviews with more than 20 Asian Americans merchants in the Sunset — whose businesses were defaced with swastikas earlier this year — revealed a pattern of racial intimidation and hate crimes that began in 1996, according to the report. Community pressure resulted in a pledge by San Francisco police to increase bilingual patrols and cultural sensitivity training in the Sunset.

The report also cited continued growth of hate crimes against Asian Americans in Bay Area schools and San Francisco public housing projects.

“Many Vietnamese families residing in San Francisco housing projects were subjected to repeated beatings, threats, racial epithets and assaults with deadly weapons by neighbors,” according to the report.

Such incidents were not relegated to low-income neighborhoods. At Stanford University, racial slurs were scrawled across a computer screen and inside a refrigerator in the Asian American Activities Center, the report said.

Hwang said underreporting of hate crimes remains a significant problem because many law-enforcement agencies are overwhelmed with other crimes or fear that documenting racism will bring unfavorable publicity to their cities.

San Francisco, Hwang said, is one city that has given hate crimes a high priority: The city recorded 38 hate crimes against Asian Americans in 1996. But Hwang said none of the 34 other Northern California law-enforcement agencies surveyed by the study’s authors reported more than two hate crimes.

Unless law-enforcement agencies take a greater interest in the issue, the report predicts attacks against Asian Americans will continue to increase in communities where their numbers are growing.

Sylvia Kim was devastated when she was attacked earlier this year. On May 4, the 62-year-old Korean American woman was thrown against a wall and kicked by a clean-cut Caucasian man in his 20s after she walked out of a bookstore in San Francisco’s Union Square. The assailant remains at large.

“He was yelling, ‘My mother is not Chinese, but I know that you are,’ ” said Kim, who was hospitalized for a week and had to have a hip replaced. “I’ve lived in this country 50 years. I never thought such a thing could happen.”

Written by: Aurelio Rojas

September 9, 1997

Teen gets 5-year sentence in S. Boston slaying

1133849764_8624With trembling hands and a face crumpled by pain, a 9-year-old Medford boy yesterday fought back tears as he spoke of the void that opened in his life when his older brother, Bang Mai, 16, was stabbed to death during a melee in a South Boston housing development last year.

”I miss having him pick me up from school and I wonder who will help me with my homework,” Tai Mai told Boston Juvenile Court Judge Terry Craven yesterday as she prepared to sentence Bang Mai’s admitted killer. ”I think about him a lot. . . . I am hurt and mad that my brother passed away. I wish he could come back and see me now.”

Tai Mai, his older brother Phu, and their mother, Nhi Mai, urged Craven to give Keith E. Gillespie a long prison sentence for killing their brother and son, a stabbing that took place as groups of Asian and white youths brawled in the Mary Ellen McCormack development on July 11, 2004.

Craven, rejecting suggestions from the defense and prosecutor, sentenced Gillespie to five years and one day in state prison. Under that sentence, Gillespie will not be eligible for parole and will, with credit for 500 days in custody awaiting trial, be released from prison in about 3 1/2 years.

”This city is besieged with adolescents and young adults who somehow believe that all differences in race, religion, and opinion can only be settled by senseless acts of violence,” Craven said. ”This court will punish individuals who are found guilty of these senseless and violent acts. . . . This is a tragedy for two mothers. However, Mrs. Mai has no hope of seeing her son prosper and reach adulthood.”

Gillespie, whose family had insisted he was innocent, admitted in September, halfway through his manslaughter trial, that he had stabbed Mai. Mai was unarmed and both Mai and Gillespie were then 16 years old, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Fredette.

Mai’s death was the capstone to weeks of simmering tensions between Asian and white youths in South Boston, a feud that was supposed to be resolved by a fistfight between one Asian and one white youth on the Veterans Park basketball court that day. But when the white youth beat two Asians, Mai stepped in, and a brawl ensued, authorities said. Others had pocket knives, but only Gillespie had a knife capable of leaving a 7-inch ”wound track,” Fredette said.

Yesterday, Gillespie, a burly 18-year-old, wore a black rosary around his neck and had a wispy goatee on his face as he stood up in court.

”I just want to apologize for my actions,” Gillespie said as his mother, Leslie, and other relatives listened. Gillespie spoke after the Mai family delivered victim impact statements. ”My father passed away while I was in jail. It hurt me a lot. I’m sorry. But there’s nothing I can do.”

Gillespie’s attorney, Jeffrey T. Karp, asked for a three-year sentence, while Fredette argued Gillespie should be imprisoned for as long as 10 years because of the deep wound Mai suffered and because Gillespie, at times, allegedly bragged about having killed the Medford teen.

Bang Mai grew up in Boston but had moved to Medford with his family and at the time of his death was participating in Job Corps, a federal residential training program in Western Massachusetts. He was home for the weekend when he joined other Asians in South Boston.

Phu Mai, 16, could not speak for himself at court yesterday and let Fredette read his victim impact statement. The statement said Phu Mai has isolated himself, is unable to concentrate in school, and fears someone else will die violently. ”Looking in the eyes of the person who killed Bang, it gives me great anger and sorrow,” the statement said.

Nhi Mai wept as she spoke of her son. ”I’m really heartbroken when I see Bang’s two little brothers because at night, they would cry because they miss Bang,” she said. ”Not having him in my life is the hardest thing I have to go through.”

Tai Mai ended his speech by saying, ”Every night I would pray for my brother with my mom. I want to say how much I love him and no one will take his place.”


Written by: John R. Ellement

December 6, 2005

Back to top